FAs- a number of Jasper locals
I first of heard of this crag back in the early 1990’s when I was living and working in Jasper, and it was obscure then and from the looks of the trail up to this small rough cliff and the ground at the base of the cliff, still hold a very obscure title in Jasper climbing history. The place always sounded mysterious when end-of-an-era lycra climbers mentioned it, only less than a few folks I ever heard actually went, and then they didn’t mention up info as to exactly where it was found. Did they not want anyone to know they climbed there because it was short? It tore your rope, hence the name maybe, and they didn’t want to be implicated? They never really went and it didn’t really exist? Or maybe they wanted to keep the approach beauty to themselves?
That is what I am going with after making a return to Jasper trip with my girlfriend and her friend. I put it on the must do list as I needed after 20+ years to see for myself where it might exist and what made it so elusive on info. For me it deserves a Piolet de Obscure Badge for this special Jasper Edition of rockiesobscure, however, being a huge movie locations buff, I wanted to touch on one, very few would recall unless they lived in Jasper in 1992/93 to remember the TV Show Destiny Ridge. For more info, go to the Piolet De Obscure page in Random Obscurities. For this I will rate each section of the day outing and see what so many years gives me for an answer to this obscure question of crag.
From Jasper drive north on Highway 93 north, for 40kms and park as for the Roche Miette scramble. This dirt-mud pullout is easy to locate, and once safely off the road, start your journey by crossing into the high brush, however it is a messy muddy, thorny brief but memorable bushwack into a open space. Find a way through on the left and on the return you can try the brush more to the west of the parking area. So at the end of the day a different path through the jungle bramble is inspiring, and it is better than the east way through. But this explaining is all for not if through parking area is dry and dusty, as you can just walk right through to get to the open area mentioned earlier.
Once in the open area not 50m from your car, walk up toward Roche Miette and turn right(west) up a gravel wash passing some kinda metal pump-jack gizmo. This gravel wash kinda goes west, then hooks back east and becomes an inclined gravel wash that almost looks man made. It is so perfect in form as far as gravel washes go, that I am intrigued by it and gain the left bank of it instead of clambering up the middle of it which is loose. Being atop the wash know, follow its gentle, clutter-free natural trail as it heads Roche Miette way. This is simply pretty, casual walking. Good views.
The wash naturally swings you back from east into a more south direction and you will pass a tall shield of hard dirt and conglomerate clay on your right side. Good place to break and chat. The wash begins to disappear and turns into the next leg of the journey and maybe its what all those 2 or 3 people I knew who went up there 20 years earlier loved and wanted to keep the hike itself a secret. Or maybe someone said it ain’t a crag worth visiting and never thought much about the canyon you are about to enter. This is the best part of the Shredder Reef experience for my visit. As far as you can see, is an el directo, narrow, slot canyon tilting eastward that you must navigate its smooth walls all the while the tilt simply wants you to slip into the rushing creek below. This looked like nature’s version of a amusement park ride and I almost forgot about the climbing ahead. The water is slithering a perfect slide beside you as you push off the overhung right wall until a small rounded bump on the rock trail makes you crouch down and do a demanding 2-3 move stretch on small holds to easier ground and you can not mess it up or you will be in the water below. The bigger your pack and crappier your footwear, the worse this will be. Once across you begins to open up and there are no further difficulties. Soon you will unfortunately exit this neat slot of wilderness. Ok, one of the coolest features I have ever been on during hiking.
You will now experience a non-claustaphobic sensation as the valley opens in front of you and the creek widens drastically and the boulders are larger and taller to hike over. To your left is a tall slab and would make a nice bolted climb in itself and would be a pretty location to climb around. The dirt embankment directly in front of you on the right side of the slab has a short steep trail heading up into forest and against the rock – this may or may not lead to Shredder Reef but I think it may. Or, walk up the curving creek around in a S-turn and once you see Roche Miette in its beauty behind you, look up and east to the rock where it is significantly darker than the surrounding grey rock – this is Shredder Reef!
A steep dirt trail takes you up through shrubs and a low moss plant to the base of the crag’s left end. I stuffed a long 15 ft chunk of webbing in my pack which came in handy for tying off to the cliff base tree and my companions happy for its secureness when descending the final dirt embankment.
The views up the valley to Roche Miette are stunning and the view to the highway is surprising for how far you seem to be now. The rock quality is nothing new or hugely original as I have climbed on this kind of tufty, rough, grippy stuff however I very much enjoy it the times I have gotten to come across it. Rough slab, it’s not tricky footwork slab, its not poor holds slab, it is good, fun positive slab, however which result in low grades, but this is irrelevant and unimportant as the trip as a whole has so many great points, it’s to be decided for yourself.
The far left line is the shortest and likely the easiest to start on. It also gives a funny view of all the cold shuts across the slabs top and makes you feel small with vertical Roche Miette above you! There is about 6-8 individually bolted lines I could see, and one between two large trees has the red piton, and I am guessing the original route that once had piton anchors. There are now bolts close by it so clipping it would be for fun more than anything. The routes here at Shredder Reef can’t be past 25m from what we climbed and could see from other more southern bolted lines. They all have easy-rappel cold shuts at the slab top.
A good personal riddle solved: it’s a good day out with friends.