Marble Canyon is one of Canada’s most amazing climbing venues, but it’s potential for modern bolted routes has only recently been discovered. With a history of climbing going back over 50 years, the huge limestone walls that rise above Pavilion Lake in Marble Canyon Provincial Park have potential for some of B.C.’s most epic long routes.
The Goat, established by Danny O’Farrell a few years ago, is a 19-pitch bolted 5.9 that has become so popular that climbers are visiting from as far away as the Bow Valley to climb it. Top climber Sarah Hart recently climbed it and said it’s one of best routes of its kind in B.C.
O’Farrell, along with Mike Mason and others, have been busy establishing single-pitch crags in the area and now have three areas with routes from 5.7 to 5.12. Mason recently developed Sneaky Pete, a new eight-pitch 5.10 all-bolted route on the Apron. It’s the second route of its kind on the Apron, a 250-metre wall that stops at a treed ledge below the upper headwall, which is over 500 metres tall.
Until this year, there were four recorded routes to the top of the headwall: Pavilion’s Edge, Yellow Brick Road, None But the Brave and The Mather/Donner. There’s no easy trail to the summit and the descent from all routes is down the North Gully, which is includes four rappels.
On June 6, I teamed up with O’Farrell to complete the first route to the summit from the road in over 20 years. It follows buttresses, ledges and chimneys east of the headwall and rises over 750 metres. The 20-pitch trad route feels more like a Rockies alpine line than the other more serious endeavours in Marble.
Unlike The Goat, a technical slab, our route follows what seems like the most obvious way up the mountain. It has fourth-class sections mixed with 5.8 chimney pitches. We called it The Donkey because if there was a donkey trail up the wall this would be it.
There are dozens of routes in the area, from old trad lines to modern bolted rigs. You can find approach beta and some route information here.