Top European climbers Ines Papert and Luka Lindic are currently on a road trip touring North America. Their most recent new route is called Travels with Charlie in the Bonanza Bay are of the Ghost River Valley.
“It’s a route for people that like trad climbing on limestone but are happy to clip a bolt where there are no cracks for pro,” said Lindic. The pitches go at 5.12a for 50 metres, 5.12a for 25 metres, 5.12a for 30 metres, 5.11c for 35 metres and 5.10b for 35 metres to the top.
“With a pecker and a hammer one can reduce a run-out on the first pitch between a second piton and a bolt,” said Lindic, who with the late Marc-André Leclerc in 2016 established the 1,100-metre The Fox on the northeast face of Mount Tuzo at M7+ WI6+R; it’s one of the most difficult alpine climbs in the Canadian Rockies. Lindic and Papert, with Brette Harrington, established The Sound of Silence VI M8 WI5 on the east face of Mount Fay in 2019.
“An experienced climber will feel comfortable with a set of cams up to #2,” said Lindic about Travels with Charlie. “If you have Totem cams bring them. Ghost limestone is of very good quality but cam placements come in all weird forms so you are happier with flexible cams.”
The Ghost River Valley is located northwest of Calgary and is accessed by a long backcountry road and a big hill. It’s been popular with climbers since the 1960s, when climbers like Trevor Jones, Chris Perry, Jack Firth, and several other British climbers were leading the way. They climbed bold trad lines using pitons and hexes. Difficult routes like Crack-a-Jack 5.10b and Thor 5.10cR were established without bolts.
In the 1980s, locals Jon Jones, Dave Morgan and Andy Genereux began to climb the blank walls placing bolts on lead. They soon switched to rap-bolting the bigger walls, but kept the bolts spaced out – an example is The Chimera 5.10cR. Then routes like the multi-pitch adventures Boy Wonder 5.11c Creamed Cheese 5.11aR were added. By the turn of the century, the Ghost had well over 500 rock climbs from 5.7 to 5.12. Windmills of the Mind is a seven-pitch 5.11b put up on lead with a power drill and a small rack on the Grey Ghost Wall up slabs, steep faces and the occasional crack.
A few years ago, Harrington and Leclerc established Aurorphobia, a big 5.13+, which is the hardest rock route in the Ghost. They spent a number of weeks establishing some hard single- and multi-pitch climbs. Leclerc onsight free-soloed Moroccan Hash, a 150-metre 5.10 which he later added bolts to for others to repeat.
More recently, Raphael Slawinski, Virginie Lavoie and Juan Henriquez freed a route bolted nearly 20 years ago by Chris Kalous. The old project had nearly been forgotten before Slawinski and team worked on it. Other hard lines includes Cupcake Conspiracy 5.11+ and Booty Loader 5.12c and Dreams of Verdon 5.12+.