Destination: Rock Climbing in the Ghost River Valley | Mountain Moxie

Destination: Rock Climbing in the Ghost River Valley

Created: 06/03/2015 - 17:56
Climbers descending after climbing Bonanza

The Ghost River Wilderness in Alberta, Canada is one of the premier ice climbing destination in the world and with an almost endless supply of steep limestone cliffs it also offers excellent rock climbing.

First time visitors to the Ghost could be forgiven for thinking they've wandered into the Wild West.    It's not unusual to have the peace shattered by the howl of a chainsaw or to hear gun fire echoing off the cliffs.

It's a rare and unusual location that offers a mix of world class climbing, industrial access, hunting and vehicle based recreation  (aka quads, bikes and 4x4s)

We'll be updating this page with more info on climbing in the Ghost shortly. 

Have something to add?  Drop us an email.


Ghost info

Getting to the Ghost

From Calgary, drive to Cochrane and continue west on Hwy 1A for about 12 or 13km and watch for the turnoff for Waiparous (it will be on your right just past a large gas plant). This is Highway 40 / Road 734 (not to be confused with Highway 40 in Kananaskis

If coming from Canmore via the 1A then start from turning onto Highway 40.

Follow the main road first through Benchlands and then through Waiparous. You'll cross a small one-lane bridge in Waiparous, pass Capture the Flag and the dump. Continue going straight out the road until it curves right and you pass Richards Road here. (about 7K)

After about 100 meters there is a gated road (usually open) This should be your first left after the curve/Richards Road.. An info booth just past the gate is visible. It will have a map of the area and possibly a map/brochure you can take. This is the Transalta Access Road.

If you drive past a ranch on the left you have gone too far.

The road is very established but is rough and has potholes. Don't expect to drive very fast. After about 3KM you'll cross a small blue bridge with a campsite to the right. The road turns right and heads up hill. (don't turn left into the closed road that is usually guarded by a giant puddle)

Follow the main road. It will curve and wind then follow a ridge where you can see down to the river valley on the left. You'll pass a bunch of campsites. Keep going.

You'll pass the Trappers Hill Cabins - Keep going (steep hill, don’t drive down it too fast on the way back home)

You'll pass a bunch of clear cuts - Keep going.

After about 16K (from the info booth) , you will see a wide parking area. The road will curve left and down a steep hill.

There are campsites to the right at the top of the hill.

The steep hill is what is know as “The Big Hill” and following it gets you to the river bottom.  The main campsite for the area is here at the bottom of the hill.  Bring a shovel as there are no facilities.

Turning right at the bottom puts you towards the North Ghost. (old CMC campsite, Consolation, Sentinel Bluffs, STD, Valley of the Birds, This House of Sky Etc)

Turning left will direct you to Devil’s Gap (Bonanza, The Wraith, Wicked Wanda, Malignant Mushroom, etc) and The South Ghost. (The Joker, Orient Point, Candlestick Maker)

A couple links that might help

Some words of caution.   As of 2015 the road is in good condition and just about any vehicle can make it to the bottom of the hill.  From that point on use your good judgment.  I've seen station wagons and minivans pretty deep in the Ghost...  but lots of people have been surprised when the river rises and a lot of vehicles have been drowned in the river.  Getting towed from the Ghost is expensive and cell service is spotty.  The riskiest times for summer climbing are June and July.   Don't cross the dry river bed unless you are prepared to either cross a 2-3 foot deep river or have supplies enough to last you until the water level recedes.



The main guidebook for the area is Andy Genereux's excellent guidebook.   See it here

There are also some portions of the Ghost listed in Sport Climbs of the Canadian Rockies.


About Author

Ian Greant's picture
Ian Greant
Ian Greant is the founder of Mountain Moxie, a project that combines both his love of Mountain Sports, Photography and his experience in Online Publishing. He is an avid climber that primarily specializes in multipitch rock and ice routes. He has established a few routes in the Canadian Rockies and is active with local climbing organizations.