The Real Big Drip is a 200-metre mixed route in the Ghost near Calgary. It was established in 1998 by Dave Thomson, Sean Isaac, Eric Dumerac and Kefira Allen. When it was established, it was one of the most difficult routes of its kind. Over the years it has become a must-climb Rockies winter route. Originally graded WI7 M7+, the mixed pitches now go at M8 with some climbers saying soft M9.

The Real Big Drip. Photo Nick Bullock

The Real Big Drip. Photo Nick Bullock

To find directions into the Ghost see here. After you pull into the valley and head down the big hill, you drive across to a road that takes you into Orient Point. Follow a track up a hill to the right and park there. Then hike up the track to a trail up and left through the trees. You’ll pass a drainage for the climbs Hooker and Joker after 20 minutes. Continue until you descend and head up a stream until the drainage below the climb. It can take a few hours to reach the base.

The first 40-metre pitch is considered the crux and many key holds have broken over the years, making it feel like a hard M8. It feels more difficult than M8 pitches on other classic long routes like Cryophobia. The second pitch is the WI6 or WI7, depending on how it forms, that climb up interesting ice for 30 metres.

The third pitch is another bolted mixed pitch that heads past a small roof and up nice rock to behind the curtain. It is about 30 metres and feels about M8. Make hard moves onto the ice and climb up about 40 metres of WI5. The next 70 metres is easier at WI4 and takes you to the top.

Watch American Jesse Huey and Canadian Pete Thurlow make an ascent a few years ago in this great short film by John Dickey.


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