Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley has a number of big test-piece routes up to 5.12 and over 500 metres. One of the most sought-after, but rarely climbed, is The Remembrance Wall.

The Remembrance Wall likely only has a dozen or so ascents since it was first climbed in July 1987. It remains one of the most serious routes in the Bow Valley. First climbed by Steve DeMaio and Jeff Marshall, the difficulty is a testament to the two climbers who pushed technical and dangerous climbing in the 1980s.

Named in memory of Dave Cheesmond, Ian Bolt, D. Guthrie and D. Monroe, all of whom died in the mountains in 1987, the line climbs the most esthetic left-facing and steepest dihedral on the wall. The first few pitches are very loose and run-out, but they’re nothing compared to the middle three pitches.

Leaving the security of the low-angle band of rock, you climb up steep corners with little protection and insecure movements. A few old rickety pitons mark the safest path, but it’s hardly safe. One experienced climber took such a big whipper, they bailed never to return.

The final ascent came after a number of attempts and despite almost breaking through the upper-third of the wall through steep roofs, the first ascent team bailed left on a 5.9 traverse to Orient Express. No one has dared attempt to push the line up and if you do, remember that it should be done with the style and ethics of DeMaio and Marshall in mind.

The first ascent aided their way up a number of moves and the first free ascent was by Raphael Slawinski and Eric Dumerac. The hardware needs to be upgraded as most of the anchors have at least one self-drive bolt from the 1980s. If you’re looking for a serious challenge next rock season, then consider The Remembrance Wall.

The Remembrance Wall 5.11b/c 555m on Ha Ling Peak, Alberta Photo Paul Zizka

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