Home > Rockies

For the Tick-List: Gooseberry 5.8, Seven Pitches

It's one of the most classic multi-pitch climbs at the grade in the Canadian Rockies

In 1967, Lloyd MacKay and Ken Baker pieced together cracks and chimneys up the east face of Tunnel Mountain (also known as Sleeping Buffalo, Iinii Istako and Eyarhey Tatanga Woweyahgey Wakân) in Banff National Park for the first ascent of the wall.

They named their seven-pitch trad route Gooseberry after a gooseberry bush in the crux chimney. That chimney is now avoided by a bolted chert pitch to the left. There’s also a number of other bolted variations that you can mix in.

The approach takes about 20 minutes, the start is easy to find, the descent is down the hiking trail and the anchors are all bolted. It’s one of the best new-to-the-Rockies multi-pitch rock climbs you can jump on.

For gear, you need a single rack to three inches, 12 quickdraws, a helmet and a 70-metre rope. To approach park next to Buffalo Lodge here. Walk across the open field towards the cliff and find trails angling towards the largest section of the wall. Continue along until you find a groove/crack with GB scratched into the rock.

There’s a great pitch-by-pitch description on Mountain Project that you can find here. The recommended pitches from the topo below are: combine pitches one and two. Climb the 5.8 bolted right variation to pitch three. Climb the 5.6 pitch four into the bolted pitch five chert pitch.

For pitch six (seven in the topo below), head up the splitter crack to below the upper chimney and below the blocky start to the final pitch. Keep a three-inch cam on your left to place once past the bolt (featured photo above) then find big holds on the right wall to move into the chimney. Finish on the left slab with a bolt to avoid the dirty exit.

Topo by Chris Perry in Banff Rock guidebook