The Stanley Headwall is one of Canada’s most popular winter ice and mixed venues, with classics like Suffer Machine WI5+ M7 and Nemesis WI6 having been climbed over 50 years ago.
Over the past few summers, however, it’s become a must-visit place for rock climbers. Canmore-based mountain guide, Gery Unterasinger, and friends have added around 20 single-pitch sport climbs from 5.11d to 5.13a.
The rock is probably dolomite, according to Ben Gadd’s book Handbook of the Canadian Rockies, the sequence going down from the top of the mountain is Eldon Limestone, Stephen Shale and Cathedral Dolomite. Local guidebook author, Chris Perry, said, “This would explain why the lower band is so good and seepage through the shale accounts for the unusual concentration of ice climbs in winter.”
The climbs found at the new crag include: Bomb Track 5.12a, Beerphobia 5.11b, Exercauser 5.11d, Kingdom of the Blind 5.12a, Faith Healer 5.12d/13a, Mind Bomb 5.12c/d, Violence of Truth 5.12b/c, Element of Crime 5.12a, Get Yourself Connected 5.13a, Distance to Empty 5.12b/c, Clockwork Orange 5.12a, Killer Queen 5.12d/13a and King of the Bongo 5.12d. See a topo from 2020 below.
It’s advised to wear a helmet as there are a number of large scree ledges above and small to big rocks are known to fall off on the regular. With tall waterfalls and glaciers all around, this is one of the best summer sport climbing crags in the Canadian Rockies.
Be sure to follow Unterasinger below and look him up if you’re looking for a rock, ice or ski guide.