The “Patch” was the first Winter/Early spring crag with routes up to mid 13, in the Bow Valley, AB. As the main canyon was the place to be in the late 80’s and early 90’s – yep that’s back in the day! With the Ravens Nest wall home to The Wizard 12a, Lizard 12- and Gizzard, 12c and the soon added “Cup-o-Joe” 13a, plus numerous 5.11’s all on wicked slopey water-polished stone. The patch is gritty, short, bouldery and know has a couple of 30m routes. The only real problem with this crag is the warm-up is 12a. Buszowski was the main instigator and first router with Elmer Fudd, then Steiner with The Carnivore and Jon Jones with Guerilla Warfare. There were usually 3 of us working at the same time building. It is a wicked place for early season and fall – it can get really hot in 15c sunny days, and on 20c days, full on roasting. It will seep, but usually a lot less than other crags, but late spring can get wet.
It resides in the Banff National Park, and has it’s own parking area, thanks to a few things, but about 2 km from the park gates, heading west, turn right into the parking area. The main function of this parking area used to be for the Banff Waste Disposal/Dump, but many people forget this and decide to ignore the fact. The park service covered and filled it in and did a very nice job, put up a new fence and built a nice set of stairs for hikers, walkers and climbers to get over the fence. Then the Honorable Sheilah Copps, minister of Heritage for the Liberal Federal government decided to make the area a wildlife corridor (not that the wildlife hadn’t used this area for eons) and removed the stairs, but could not legally shut access down – simply asked climbers to refrain from climbing in the canyon. Most of us abided by the rule, and still do, and climbed elsewhere. The parks service started clear-cutting the area for a firewall to protect Canmore. Well, as you may notice, clear cutting and fires will do more to detract from the “wildlife” than climbers and hikers. Besides that, why build a firewall to protect Canmore in the Park itself? The parks service could easily have built one just outside the park boundary – well we may never know, as the federal government has never been very good at coming clean or being “smart” about it’s environmental decisions - Enough of that. New Parks Work There are many other areas to climb – but this one has history and I wanted to let climbers know about it.
The hike in is very nice, about 40 minutes to the Ravens Nest wall and the patch is about 15 minutes from there. A very gentle uphill walk the whole way, with a few creek crossings. The patch is the large cave, uphill from the creek and faces south. Walking up the first route you will come to is on your left, about 50m from the creek uphill and the main staging area is about 20m uphill from there.
Rack of 14 draws for most routes should to make you happy.
Rope 60m usually works fine.
Bring water. There is the creek – at your own tolerance.
I’ve taken a different approach by using the number itself to represent it’s middle ground. The – and the + represent the slash section of the grade.
Examples: 5.12a = 12a
5.12- = a/b
5.12 = mid 12, could be easy ‘C’ or hard ‘B’.
5.12c = 12c
5.12+ = c/d
5.12d = 12d
The routes are described from the bottom left, all the way to the Cave-Right:
1. Steiner 11c – noticeable by the big- loose flake. Notice not much said about it!
2. Liar 513- 25m
b. Climb some nice low angle stone, crimpers, slopers, tufas and then out the two-tier roof system.
c. Excellent route, probably one of the best 13’s in the valley.
3. Oedipus Complex 5.12 22m
b. Low angle start, then get ready for some tugging out the two-tier roof.
c. A bit sporty to the anchor.
4. Elmer Fudd 5.12c 20m
b. Starts at the bottom of the overhanging corner about 15m uphill from the Oedipus.
c. Slopers, crimpy, funky and fun.
5. Elmer Fudder 5.12+ 30m
b. The extension to Elmer Fudd, it’s a bit tricky way up there!
6. Mouth full of Freddie 5.13c 30m
b. Start is a bit weird – uphill and around the corner from Elmer, and just left of “Last Boy Scout” – climb up a couple of moves, then track left around the corner onto the main wall.
c. Long with 2 distinctive cruxes – awesome route.
7. Last Boy Scout 5.13c 20m
b. Starts in the dark corner, with your back facing the “Carnivore” – bolted on lead by Simon Parboosign, just prior to his tragic avalanche accident. Scott Milton cleaned it up and sent it naming it after Simon.
c. It is a really good route to a very nasty boulder crux finish – kind of a 13a to a V8.
8. Carnivore 5.13a 20m
b. This route is at the turning point of the cave, just where it turns right/east. It is the noticeable crack line that is almost fully horizontal.
c. Probably the most distinctive 13a in the Rockies, simply because it’s like no other route. Full on roof crack climbing to a lip encounter, to a cruxy headwall – simply awesome.
9. Project “Know Your Enemy” 13d/14a?
b. Climbs the first 4 bolts of the Carnivore, then breaks right out the belly of the roof for 4 bolts, and clips the anchors of Doppio & Black Coffee Blues. Fell of the last hard move – still waiting!
10. Doppio 5.13- 15m
b. Starts about 5m right of Carnivore – climb the faint overhanging crack/seam – pockets, slopey bucket and surprisingly hard for such a short route.
c. It’s excellent – kind of nice to have the last bolt extended!
11. Black Coffee Blues 5.12d 15m
b. Climb the first 3 bolts of Guerilla Warfare, then head left and get ready, because it comes quick and stays on you to the anchor!
c. Superb route – crimpy and then you get the burl finish of Doppio. Remember the last bolt thingy?
12. Guerilla Warfare 5.12a 13m
b. The warm-up and yes it really is 5.12 and you’ll realize it pretty darn quick.
c. Excellent climbing on jugs with big reaches and a nice sloper crux!
The crag has room for more routes left of the Carnivore and there are bolts on it, just needs some love and energy as it’s going to be hard! Thank Guyn. Tremaine bolted a route right of Mouthful – it goes straight up the right side of the blunt arÍte/corner – awaits some love.
Know your Enemy is readily available to all – just get on it and send the rig – thank LeBlanc for this one.
NOTE: you can climb Guerilla and traverse left to the anchors of Doppio and Black Coffee to set the draws – makes climbing a bit quicker – also you can get the “enemy” top bolts from here too!
Red = Liar 13-
Black = Anti-Oedipus 12-
Green = Elmer Fudd 12+
Red = Mouthful of Freddie 13c
Black = Last Boy Scout 13c
Green = Carnivore 13a
Yellow = Know Your Enemy 13d/14a project
Red = Doppio 13b
Blue = Black Coffee Blues 12d
Black = Guerilla Warfare 12a