Good Gear-5.7-B Slab
Wasootch Slabs might be the best known “beginners” climbing area any where in Canada. I have never seen such a collection of top roped 5.4-5.6 routes in my travels. That being said, my wife and I use the area in late fall to soak in the southwestern exposure on days that would be far too cold to sport climb in our local canyons, Cougar Canyon
, Heart Creek
, Grotto Canyon or Grassi Lakes. We have climbed on routes up to 5.11 at Wasootch Slabs and have found plenty lead routes away from the top rope slabs. We have climbed both trad and sport routes at Wasootch. The further you are willing to hike back into the Wasootch Creek Valley, i.e. “F” Slab, “Z” Slab or Four Pines, the less polished and more challenging routes you will find. This area is also home to Wasootch Tower
which is a fun alpine trad climb with several challenging sport climbs on its southwestern wall.
Wasootch Slabs is featured in the “Sport Climbs in the Canadian Rockies” guide book, but many of the routes have been updated since its last publication (2002). I have come across several routes that were to have been trad routes that are now sport routes. In fact they seem to have been fairly aggressive with bolts in places. I typically skip a bolt here and there on lead of these routes. There are a lot more top anchors in place versus what is shown in the book as well. This was done to prevent rock fall from above as climbers were scrambling up and top roping onto trees.
A Slab: 5.5-510d/
I have not climbed any of these routes. I assume them to be quite polished since they are the easiest to get to and this is such a common area (by Canadian Rocky standards).
B Slab: 5.2-5.11b/
The most routes of any slab at Wasootch, 35 to be exact. A 5.2 sport climb? This is actually a trad route and the first I have ever seen. Wasootch is obviously a great place to teach children how to climb. I have climbed on this slab and reference my favorite routes on the route page for B Slab.
C Slab: 5.4-5.11a/I have led the 5.11a here, Sweet Tweet, and recommend it. The 5.11 section runs through about 5 bolts and is not too polished yet, although it is heading that direction.
D Slab: 5.4-5.7/
These are all top rope slabby routes.
E Slab: 5.4-5.5/
Same as D, except shorter routes.
G Slab: 5.4-5.7/
A nice 5.7 trad route called “Layback Route”.
F Slab: 5.6-5.10a/
Actually further back than G Slab. I like the two 5.10a sport routes (no longer trad). Nice textured rock, only polished at the very start. I have climbed on this slab and reference my favorite routes on the route page for F Slab.
Irish Rock: 5.9-5.10c/
The few routes beyond the bend in the Wasootch Creek Valley.
Z Slab: 5.9-5.10d/
Same as Irish Rock.
Y Slab: 5.6/
Beyond Z Slab (somebody needs to freshen up on their alphabet)
Four Pines: 5.7-5.11/
End of the road.
Take the Kananaskis Highway (Highway 40) exit off of the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary and Canmore. Travel past Kananaskis Park headquarters
and Barrier Lake on your right and Mount Baldy
on the left as you are heading southbound. Park at the Wasootch Creek Day Use Area on your left. You will clearly see Wasootch Tower
from the highway as you near the parking turnoff. From the parking lot, follow the faint gravel trails up the creek bed to the slabs on your left, starting with “A” slab.
There are no permit requirements to enter, climb and/or park in Kananaskis Provincial Park.
There are restrooms at the parking area and a rough outhouse hidden across the creek bed, in the trees to the south, across from D Slab. If you are top roping, please be aware of climbers below on other routes.
When to ClimbTruly the beauty of Wasootch Slabs is that this is the warmest spot to climb, spring or fall, near the central Canadian Rockies.
My wife and I only climb here early or late in the season and preferably mid-week, due to the crowds from Calgary. I climbed Wasootch Tower
in May. No higher than Wasootch Tower is makes it a fine early objective to get in summer shape. Some snow and ice will present itself on approach, but there are a multitude of ways to gain the ridge.
There is a significant lodging and campground complex several kilometers south called Kananaskis Village. The lodging options here include the Ribbon Creek Hostel
and posh Delta Lodge. You cannot camp outside of the marked specific camping areas in Kananaskis. Refer to the Kananaskis Provincial Park website
for more information regarding camping and/or lodging.
The Kananaskis Provincial Park website
is a very thorough park website, including trail conditions or closures, wildlife notices, weather conditions, avalanche conditions, camping permits, whitewater conditions, etc. It is an excellent source if you are going to spend any time here and comparable to any National Park website I have used. Canadian Alpine Accident Reports
are also extremely useful. There is only one accident report for Wasootch Slabs as of 2006.