Calgary has long been a base for climbers, from the early days of the Calgary Mountain Club up to modern 5.14 climbers such as Evan Hau calling it home. And while many non-Calgarians think of the city as a cold place from November until April, there are brief periods of relief that come in the form of Chinook Winds.

And when the temperature rises above freezing and the sun is out, Wasootch Slabs is one of the first crags to dry off. Wasootch Slabs has a number of sport climbs, but most will know the area as a top-roping crag. There’s a big collection of 5.4 to 5.6 routes, but that shouldn’t scare off those looking for warm south-facing walls with sunny exposure.

There are some stipple slabs lines up to hard 5.11 that will keep your toes and calves engaged. Most slabs are named after letters and the farther back you travel the less polished the routes. Above the creek is Wasootch Tower, which has a six-pitch 5.9 old-school trad route.

Wasootch top-roping Photo Tim Banfield

The approach only takes a few minutes along a creek bed and the views of Mount Kidd are stunning. If you’re in the Rockies for some ice climbing late this winter and there’s a chinook, leave the ice gear behind and head to Wasootch for some warm stone.

Getting there: Take the Kananaskis Highway (Highway 40) exit off of the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary and Canmore. Travel past Barrier Lake on your right and Mount Baldy on the left as you are heading southbound. Park at the Wasootch Creek Day Use Area on your left. Follow the faint trail up the creek to A Slab.

Crags

A Slab: 5.5 to 5.10d / polished but some classic routes
B Slab: Highest concentration of routes with 35. There’s a 5.2 trad route and a 5.11 sport route.
C Slab: Sweet Tweet is a fun 5.11a with about five bolts and is not too polished.
D Slab: Slab toprope routes from 5.4 to 5.7.
E Slab: Same as D Slab but shorter 5.4 to 5.7.
G Slab: A nice 5.7 trad route called Layback Route.
F Slab: Farther than G Slab with two nice 5.10a sport routes on textured stone.
Irish Rock: The few routes beyond the bend in the Wasootch Creek Valley at 5.9 to 5.10.
Z Slab: Like Irish Rock at 5.9 to 5.10.
Y Slab: Past Z Slab with short 5.6 routes.
Four Pines: 5.7-5.11/End of the road.

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