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Bear Spirit Ice Crag

Banff + Yoho, Alberta

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Bear Spirit Ice Crag

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  • Approaching up the creek.- Bear Spirit Ice Crag
  • Anchor setup on the 10-meter step.- Bear Spirit Ice Crag
  • The Bear Spirit Ice Crag.- Bear Spirit Ice Crag
  • A good spot to practice leads on steeper ice.- Bear Spirit Ice Crag
  • Top-quality mixed climbing to be found as well at Bear Spirit Ice Crag.- Bear Spirit Ice Crag
  • This reach-y route goes at M7.- Bear Spirit Ice Crag
  • The central pillar in early season conditions.- Bear Spirit Ice Crag
  • The WI3 line around the corner at Bear Spirit Ice Crag.- Bear Spirit Ice Crag
  • Hanging out away from the line of fire. - Bear Spirit Ice Crag
  • Top rope laps with the belayer a ways away from the falling ice.- Bear Spirit Ice Crag
  • Solid form. Bear Spirit Ice Crag.- Bear Spirit Ice Crag
  • Looking toward the right of the crag with the WI3 line visible through the trees. Bear Spirit Ice Crag.- Bear Spirit Ice Crag
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Easy access to top ropes. Beginner friendly.
Cons: 
Difficult approach.
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Region:
Banff + Yoho, AL
Access: 
Vehicle
Climbing:
Snow / glacier / ice route, Top rope
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Site characteristics: Drinking water: 
Unfrozen water
Recommended Equipment:
Helmets, Ice axe / crampons, Harness / rope / anchors, Additional ice tools
Highest point: 
1,750.00 m (5,741.47 ft)
Alpine climbing NCCS rating: 
Grade III
Year round: 
No
Open from: 
November 14 to May 02
Parking Pass: 
National or state forest pass
Permit required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Winter
Primary aspect: 
East facing
Total Distance: 
3.60 km (2.24 mi)
Total elevation gain: 
340.00 m (1,115.49 ft)
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,410.00 m (4,625.98 ft)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

Bear Spirit is a classic beginner's crag in the Canadian Rockies due to its easy access to top roping. With fun ice and sustained top rope lines, it's a fantastic crag to learn basic ice climbing technique in a safe environment. With few alternatives in the Canadian Rockies, among them Johnston Canyon, Bear Spirit is an attractive ice climbing destination for anyone learning the ropes.

While it draws inexperienced climbers—exercise caution—the approach also serves to dissuade many. Head North from Banff along the Trans-Canada Highway and take the turnoff for the Bow Valley Parkway. Take an immediate right-hand turn to a closed road. Park here. Follow the road to a washed out creek. Follow the creek 1.46 kilometers to a big log with obvious crampon marks in it. Head immediately to your left. Sometimes this trail is covered in ice, so the log serves as an excellent spot to pop on crampons. There should be a trail with plenty of crampon marks heading straight up.

At 1,650 meters, arrive at a cliff with a shoot of ice popping through. It's about a 10-meter step up to a tree that serves as an excellent anchor. Ideally, don't climb this unless you are already fairly experienced, as accidents of over-confidence are common here. The tree at the top serves as a solid belay anchor and rappel point for the descent.  Follow the ice upward to the broad bowl of Bear Spirit Crag.

The Crag

There are two to three large pillars that form generally at WI4 in the centre bowl. To the right of them are the mixed lines and an easier short WI3 line that makes for a good first lead. If you keep heading right, you will find a path that wraps around to the trees that serve as anchors for the climbs. You will need to rappel down and set a directional anchor for the best line.

To the left, there is a sheltered spot to hang out between climbs. Be careful moving about as it's challenging to avoid icefall, and you cannot expect climbers to wait for you to cross. Be intentional and always watch above to ensure there is nothing coming down. There is always a lot of ice spread across the ground, so it is absolutely imperative that everyone have climbing crampons.

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Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide

Field Guide

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Adventures

(18 within a 30 mile radius)

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