Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Planet X

The Canadian Rockies is the best sport climbing area in Canada, and it's also one of the best locations for summer sport climbing in North America. The crags are nestled among high mountain peaks and conditions are best in July and August, a rarity found elsewhere on the continent. Since there are many cliffs scattered throughout the Bow Valley, it's almost always possible to find a crag that suits the day's conditions and the style of climbing most desired.

After three months of frustrating downtime to rehabilitate a shoulder injury incurred bouldering this spring, I finally feel like I'm back climbing again, and it feels good. We decided to spend a couple of weeks in the Rockies, checking out some of the new crags and escaping the heat wave that's hitting the coast right now. One of the best crags we've been to so far is Planet X. This is a fairly new cliff found at the very back of Cougar Canyon and it faces north, making it a perfect warm day location. The cliff is around 40 m high, has a grade spread from 5.11a to 5.14a, and the routes tend to be long endurance affairs on immaculate blue-grey limestone. It climbs like a cross between the Anti-Phil and Project walls at Rifle, but it's bigger. As far as what rope to bring goes, I'd pack at least a 70 m and I personally recommend the 9.2 mm Mammut Revelation. It's a nice slick cord that provides minimal rope drag, yet still holds up to abuse very well, despite the thin diameter. I've been using one since last Christmas and it's still going strong!

We are in the process of putting together a brand new colour guidebook for all the sport cliffs in this area and it's due out next summer. Enjoy the pics...

The Planet X crag. This photo only shows about half the width of the wall and about three quarters of the height! The rock is stunning. Photo by Derek Galloway.

The 5.11 corner that leads up to the incredible 35 m overhanging pitch, Shooting Star (5.12d), likely the best route of its grade in the entire valley. The climb is steep, physical and features all kinds of interesting holds such as pinches, underclings and pockets. Photo by Derek Galloway.

Derek Galloway hikes Cosmos, a super 5.13c to the right of Shooting Star. Photo by Gery Unterasinger.

View across the wall. Photo by Gery Unterasinger.

The crux rock-over move on Meconium, a 37m 5.12b on the right end of the wall. This climb is a journey through multiple cruxes, bulges and rests. Photo by Gery Unterasinger.

Gery Unterasinger on the bouldery Cosmos. Does it look like Rifle to you? You bet it does, only the routes are longer and less polished. Photo by Derek Galloway.

Have a nice summer everyone!
Marc Bourdon - Squamsih, BC

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