Sheep Valley Terrain Park
A 45 minute walk in is where you will find the first grouping of routes in the Terrain Park of the Sheep River. These routes all form in December as any earlier the river is likely not frozen. This new entire Sheep area should become popular with south Calgarians who like moderates with the extreme closeness to the city, very low hazard, ease of approach, and nice place(Black Diamond Hotel) to have a beer at the end of the day.
From Turner Valley drive the #546 west to the winter gate at Sandy McNabb and park. Walk, ski or bike this popular dog-walking road for 1km to a Texas Gate, soon after the road ‘S’curves and the guardrail begins. The rockwall is visible here to the west but the ice is not visible until you are n the river. Hike down open glades and cross a large meadow used for cross-country skiing then down to the river. Be careful in early season crossing the river but it’s solid as winter progresses, in fact many people snowmobile up the river which is highly illegal. Beware of open pools anytime which also make for an excellent winter oasis to refill the bottles. The more eastern routes are all minutes apart from the next and all routes can be rapped from trees or abalakovs except Coin-Operated which has bolts.
The Devil Tower, WI4+ 45m
FA- G. Cornell and J. Miller, Feb. 2010
A challenging pillar within the beautiful woods of the Sheep River Valley. Approach: Drive west from Turner Valley and park at the Sandy McNabb road closure. Walk or bike the road, for a mellow 5kms. Just past Windy Point Ridge, there is a massive open meadow. Walk to the far west end of the meadow’s rim and drop down onto the river. Don’t descent too late as crappy cliffs will make it difficult. Walk up the river for about 5 minutes to the base of the falls which look stunning as you come onto it.
Climb a steep slope of ice, snow and rock to the pillar base. Climb very steep ice and top out above the falls in the forest. Rap off tree with 70m rope or downclimb a bit of the slope.
Sleestak (Lying Down) WI3 25m
FA- G. Cornell and T. Clark, Feb. 2010
The large gush of ice 50m left The Devil Tower. Go up rambling ice to the fun steeper step. Rap from an abalokov, no good trees exist.
The next route in the Sheep River can be best biked to from the winter road closure as the sun melts the snow off the road most of the year but will take about 45 minutes walking otherwise. Just past Windy Point Ridge is a texas gate. Turn left and hike a few minutes down through poplar trees to open grass slopes overlooking the river and the waterfall. Stash your bike here and walk easily down and cross the river and up a tiny slope to the base.
Jungle Gym, WI4, 25m
FA – G. Cornell and T. Clark, April 2010
These two fun routes side-by-side are a great afternoon as each is vastly different from the other. The left line is a thin, hooking, weaving of drips while the right is a good solid, steep pillar. Rap both from trees.
Apre Steps, WI2, 50m
FA – G. Cornell, March 2011
Not a route so much as a good way to ice climbing out of the Sheep River bottom at the end of the day as it puts you almost onto the road. It is located at a tight bend in the river below Windy Point Ridge, closer to Jungle Gym than the main area.
Escuela Alpinista, WI2+R, 30m
FA – G. Cornell and T. Clark, March 2011
If you can imagine the trees gone this detiorated shale wall looks very alpine so you need to imagine yourself up high when your really actually so low down- try it in foul weather for the full pretend alpine backdrop. You must rap from an abalokov as the surrounding rock is kitty litter which will make the grade a bit runout if the perfect amount of ice has not dripped down to the river.
Walk the road as for the main routes but hop the guardrail half way down when the wall comes into view, slip through poplars and take a trail down to the river. Climb and rap. The ice never continues up the feeding gully and is steep, loose with zero protection for 30m. It is about a 10 minute walk downstream to the main area.
Coin Operated, WI2, 30m
FA – G. Cornell, March 2011
Beginners: make this your first ever lead as there are lots of calm stances to place screws, and the top narrows into a pretty groove and a comfortable ledge with a two bolt rap anchor on the side wall. From the main area, walk upstream 7 minutes around a corner. It follows a right-facing rockwall and just past two thick practiec flows – The Bleached Skulls.
Last Pirate of Saskatchewan, WI3, 30m
FA – G. Cornell and T. Clark, Feb.2011
This route seems unclimbable till water freezes over the lower rockband which could be done with pins if it doesn’t touch down, which it did’t until mid-February. Climb plastic ice straight up to a tree.
Dubious Adhesion, WI3+R, 25m
FA – G. Cornell and T. Clark, Feb. 2011
This lacey ice falls over a sandstone cliff band. Plod up 20m to the base. Go up right to a bolt then continue up very thin hard-to-protect ice to a rock bulge, turn it left and go up to a tree. Small/medium nuts may help.
Ride the High Country, WI3 55m
FA – G. Cornell, March 2011
This is best left till later in the season when the snow slides away leaving the first 27m of thin front pointing to a tree belay on the left. Go up deep blue ice and a narrow finish to the trees. Rap from thread or trees.
Bridal Train, WI3, 60m
FA – G. Cornell and T. Clark, Dec. 2010
Start up a snow gully and belay off an ice sheet. Climb a narrow, thin ribbon of ice to a ledge. Turn up left and follow a fat narrow stip of ice in a right-facing corner all the way to the upper forest. Can be broken into two pitches.
Kris Kringle, WI2+, 30m
FA -G. Cornell and T. Clark, Dec. 2010
The fattest flow of blue ice. Go up nice bulges of ice to a short steep finish to a tree on the left.
Capricorn One, WI2+, 45m
FA – G. Cornell, Jan. 2011
The leftmost ice at the Terrain Park that may be unformed until January. Climb good thin ice to a treed ledge, cross through some trees to a good belay ledge. Climb a fatter second pitch up to a good tree on the right. Rap.