Remote Climbing Adventures
When moving around in Cochrane it is inevitable that one’s eyes get drawn to the western views. Whether you are high at GlenEagles golf course or sitting at the lights at Griffin Road, you will witness the spectacular view of The Rocky Mountains. From town, one has a clear view of an impressive vertical rock tower, Devil’s Head Mountain. It looks like a thumb and is truly a “thumbs up” for anyone who has climbed in this area! To the rock and ice climber, the upper headwaters of the Ghost are a wilderness mecca that attract climbers from all over the world seeking big, and almost remote, adventures.
There’s a lot to climbing big walls like these. It’s not like in the gym. It is an adventure. And in this 9 to 5 world people travel to literally get lost in their own adventure. When you get on big walls, you are rarely the only people on the wall. With over 600 climbs to choose from spread over about 10 valleys, you can get lost for days either on a rock climb, ice climb or hiking adventure.
World Class Climbing Destination
I was part of a three-man team that did the first recorded ascent of a 1,000 ft rock climb in this area. It is now known the South Face of Phantom Tower, a 5.8 traditional climb and was what you might call a grand adventure. Driving to this area adds to the journey! Cochrane is the closest community to this world class climbing destination. You can get there in a good SUV in about an hour on adventurous dirt roads. I, like many of my climbing friends, have been stuck in the most bizarre ways you can imagine, and the road is littered with bits of car that have fallen off. But it’s a great place to freak out your 10-year son, “Aw! My feet are getting wet. The truck is filling with water!!”
Why the Ghost?
The fantastic quality of the rock, known as Palliser Formation. Great swathes of it have raised fossilized, or dolomitized to be more precise, worm tracks in the rock leading to extremely high friction for climbing shoes to take advantage of. There are some sections of rock which are as sticky as Velcro. One of the many feelings that happens to you when you are in a place like the Ghost is the scale; The echoing scale! These are big walls that take you a full day to do and then you must get down. And that’s where the greater quest can occur.
An unexpected adventure, a short distance from the ranching community in the foothills, awaits.
For ice or rock guiding contact Alpine Air Adventures
Guest Journalist – Trevor Jones