MacLab Slab finds the best rock on the massive feature south of Rundlehorn on Mount Rundle. Some of the route was first explored in the fall of 2018 during the Banff Centre Mountain Fest by David Smart and Brandon Pullan. They returned in June 2019 to fully equip the slab with protection bolts and rap rings. The MacLab is the pub on the Banff Centre campus where climbers often gather to share stories after climbing around Banff.
MacLab Slab climbs eight 30-metre pitches and ends at the top of the obvious 230-metre feature. From the top of the eight pitches, continue left to find Rundlehorn or descend via eight 30-metre rappels. The fifth pitch follows some of the best chert at an easy grade in the valley.
The exposure and views on pitch seven and eight are amazing. It took a few days to clean the big rocks and dirt from ledges but there will be continue to be loose rock and some holds might break over time. Don’t climb beneath another party, a rule that applies to every route in the Canadian Rockies. Wear a helmet and don’t drop big rocks as there might be climbers on Rundlehorn. Anticipate other climbers ahead of you and have a plan b and c ready.
Approach: Park for Rundlehorn and start up trail at the climbers pullout lot along the Banff Golf Course road near the clubhouse. It’s just at the base of the Rundle ridgeline. Start up the trail but stay right and continue up drainage beneath ridge heading up and right. Where the scree ends at the top of the slope, look for bolts on the solid rib left of the gully.
Pitch one: Start up the slab/corner on big holds and continue up rib moving right then left on solid rock (5.4 30m).
Pitch two: Layback flake to easier ground and follow a slab on the rib (5.5 30m).
Pitch three: Up left on solid rock past a bulge and right on slab and solid rock and back left below scree ledge (5.5 30m).
Pitch four: Up trail left to short slab and rising traverse on ledges (avoid corner and stay on face) to chimney. Stay left of chimney on solid chert and then onto ledge (5.6 30m).
Pitch five: Straight up the amazing chert following the bolts (5.5 30m).
Pitch six: Up left to short crux and then to notch. Straight up on big flakes (beware of loose rock) and then right on slab to semi-hanging belay (5.6 30m).
Pitch seven: Immediately go right onto good rock to avoid loose roof. Up big holds to slab with great incuts. Up right on ramp to anchor and sandy ledge (5.6 20m).
Pitch eight: Move left along scree to chert rib (find bolt) and follow up to end of rib. Step across scree ledge and onto 5.3 slab with bolts. Up right of corner to bolt in bulge. Find hidden feet and step up and left onto grassy slab and to anchor (5.7 30m).
Descent: Rappel from here or continue up and left to finish on Rundlehorn. Keep in mind loose rock during rappels.
Gear: 10 quickdraws, helmets, 60m rope.