Sport climbing
Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Grade I
Elevation Gain
130.00 m (426.51 ft)
1.37 km (0.85 mi)
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As one of the closer crags to Canmore, the crag at Grassi Lakes is a popular after-work spot on weeknights and busy with Calgarians on weekdays. The unusual, positively featured limestone on either side of a deep gorge opens up to the beautiful Grassi Lakes below. There are loads of excellent beginner and intermediate routes and a few harder routes. This crag is a crowd-pleaser for everyone. As with many climbs in the Rockies, there is no option to top rope as the routes end about halfway up much taller walls. Most of the grades here are much, much softer then Lake Louise; many suggest it's a bit softly graded.

The climbing crag straddles a deep gorge that runs beneath the Spray Reservoir dam. The trail begins about 250 meters north of the parking lot, so you'll need to walk along the dusty road to get to the crag. Be sure to use the washroom as it's a steep hike back to the parking lot to use the vault toilet there. Watch for cars along the road, which come screaming around the corner. It's best to stay on the lake side of the road, where you are more visible.

The trail begins with a chalky, dusty mess, so hiking shoes with decent traction are ideal. About 70 meters down the stairs, wind along easy trail past the expert-level routes of the Ghetto and the Rectory. These long, sustained routes slightly overhung and provide great projects with grades ranging from 5.11b to 5.13c.

The trail winds through a series of boulders and arrives at White Imperialist Wall. It is fairly broad with tricky, slabbed face climbs, mostly in the 5.10 range with some boulder-like 5.11s and a 5.12. There are a couple excellent overhung but juggy routes here. Bring a stick clip. There are a few pictographs here, and the wide space near Gizmo makes for an excellent hangout spot. It also gets decent sun.

Just beneath this through a couple trees are two excellent, steep 5.9 routes that are super juggy—a great place for those looking to push their leading grades. Just beneath this is the pockmarked Golf Course Wall. With grades ranging between 5.4 and 5.7, it's a great place for first leads. With so many holds, locating the best is the biggest challenge. The routes are bolted in very short intervals.

Gardener Wall is across the gorge in the trees. Bigger pockmarks and a steep wall make it a lot tougher. Moisture often collects in the holes much longer than on the other walls. Grades range from 5.8 to 5.10, making Gardener Wall another great spot for beginners to push their comfort zone with pumpy, jug climbing.

Meathooks is by the lake. The namesake route is a perma-drawn, overhanging, juggy 5.11. It's an uber-classic route and loads of fun if you like hard juggy climbing.

Required Gear

  • Harness
  • Helmet (very necessary, as the rock above is exceedingly loose and a family of goats causes frequent, serious rockfall)
  • Belay device
  • 8-14 draws
  • Climbing rope at least 50 meters long
  • Anchor kit if you plan to leave a top rope

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Close to town. Very positive holds. Great for beginner and intermediate climbers.


Fairly busy. Loose rock above.

Pets allowed


Trailhead Elevation

5,511.81 ft (1,680.00 m)

Highest point

5,577.43 ft (1,700.00 m)


Big vistas
Native artifacts
Bird watching
Vault toilet



Typically multi-day


Permit required


Primary aspect

East facing

Class / Rating


Drinking water

Unfrozen water



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