Stanley Headwall; Thriller Cave, BC


The Thriller cave is one of the coolest Mixed Sport-climbing areas, in the Rockies. Up until a few years ago, it held a few mixed routes, Thriller M9, with a second pitch at M7+, Phyllis Diller and Miller Swiller, Nutbar and Fruitcake entered onto the scene. But, seemed a long way to go for Sport routes. Well a foray into the cave this 2004 November created some new psyche, and secrets. New ice that has not been in for a few years provides some radical new mixed lines. 30m of overhanging stone under HUGE pillars, creates great ambience and your heart will race swinging them tools onto the back of a 15m-pillar hanging 20m off the deck.


Park on the East side of the Highway, in the Stanley Glacier parking lot.


Located on the Radium Highway #93, about a 40-minute drive from the town of Canmore, about 5 to10 minutes before Haffner. It has one of the best alpine approaches, about 40 minutes of nice switchback-ing, followed by 40 minutes of valley walking to a 15-minute hoof uphill to the cave. The Thriller cave is the last piece of stone and ice before you’d head up to the glacier, about 500m from Nemesis (along the cliff band) Follow the major park service trail, once in the valley bottom, be a bit observant for snow conditions, it is avalanche terrain. You will start a bit of a hill climb (still on the main trail) and just before it cranks back up into the alpine, you will notice Nemesis and there may be a trail going to it, this trail will pass a really nice distinctive boulder in the middle of the valley floor, you will be notice it. This is where you want to stay going uphill, follow trail, and before exiting the alpine tree-line, look up-valley and source the trail sign, head for it. From here you want to tend up-valley, then track across the floor to start the final hoof up to the cave (just to the left of the rock outcrop and left of the last small ice climb Sinus Gully), there may be a trail, but if not you will figure it out.


This is to be used as a quick guide and reference, for more detailed info and support, the Rockies area mixed guide author.



Grades are subjective, and with Mixed Climbing, routes actually change over time, and the amount of Ice truly makes a difference. Use them as a guide, and if you saw a photo of a route with a big amount of ice and your looking at it NOW with no ice, use your noggin, put your ego in your pack and just climb. For rock climbers, whipping with your boots on and tools in your hands can be very dangerous and easily cause injury. So be a bit more aware of where you are and where you may land. I have seen many a rock climber give-er on these climbs and narrowly escape, rarely have I seen an ice climber do the same, as they are used to judging their surroundings and sucking it up to escape injury. Hey, if its a roof and you will not hit anything, that is obvious. But, if you are looking at hitting the ground, ledge, or falling off a vertical route, those crampons are not like rock shoes, they will grab, twist and break stuff.


The following are for the Thriller Cave only.


Thriller, Pitch #1 M9-:

Burly and burly, some of the best sport mixed moves on any route, it really flows. But this is no Haffner, the first bolt is OFF the ground, its not really hard, but can be awkward, you are a long away from the road, so do not be stupid.


Thriller, Pitch #2 M7+:

I hear its good, the rock looks fun, but a lot of dry, cold, sublimated ice, good for them ice climbers out there.


Phyllis Diller M10+:

Got no real idea, looked at it, thought about it, but just not getting into my thick noggin.


Miller Swiller M10:

You look at it and wonder what the heck they were thinking. You get on it and your totally going the wrong way with tools and crampons, and after a brutal body beating your placing tools in that great Stanley dry sublimated/detached ice. Sweet route, probably better than Caveman in Haffner.


Fruitcake M10+

A Raphael Slawinski route, 1 ascent and he had to wear some girlie gaitors. Looks hard and knowing it is a Raph. route, it may have been bolted and sent instead of bolted, cleaned then sent. But hey, he put the bolts in and sent the rig. Probably really good when you figure (find) out the holds, any takers.


Nutbar M10

Another Raph. Route, with Scott Semples bolts and gear. Probably really good when you figure (find) out the holds.


Roto Tiller M9+: NEW 2004

Tooling up a steep wall to a nice ice curtain only 30m from the deck. A great addition to the cave, Wicked work-out route, one that keeps coming at you.


Serial Driller M9+: NEW 2004

Climb’s up an ice groove to a ledge, clip bolts, pre-set the first 3, remove bolt 1 (rope drag) then pull and hang on at about the 11th bolt, you’ll be able to get onto the back of the dagger. Your ice climbing from here on, facing the valley, not the wall you just came up. 5 more bolts to a bolt anchor. It was done on lead; so if you do not like all the bolts, do not clip-em.


The Distiller M9+: NEW 2004

Direct start to the anchor. Yeah, sounds funny. Burly right off the ledge, and the moves keep adding up, a big move to the middle ice blob, burly leaving that ice, 2 more bolts to the back of the huge dagger. Awesome route.


Green, The Distiller 9+; Red, Serial Driller 9+; Yellow, Roto Tiller 9+; Left Blue, Nutbar 10; Right Blue, Fruitcake 10


Red, Thriller 9-; Blue, Miller Swiller 10; Yellow, Phyllis Diller 10+/11-