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The Fame Monster is Newish Six-Pitch 5.12 in the Ghost

The project was bolted over a decade ago and nearly forgotten until the first free ascent

Photo by: Raphael Slawinski

The Ghost River Valley is located northwest of Calgary, north of the Bow Valley, and is accessed by a long backcountry road and a big hill. It’s been popular with climbers since the 1960s, with climbers like Trevor Jones, Chris Perry, Jack Firth, and several other British climbers leading the way. The climbed bold trad lines using pitons and stoppers. Hard 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 big walls, but kept the bolting spaced out, an example is the spicey 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, Brette Harrington and Marc-Andre 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. Watch a film below.

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+.

The Fame Monster

Topo Raphael Slawinski

Hard Ghost Climbing

Lead photo: Raphael Slawinski