Thursday, May 26, 2016

Plutonian Shore 5.9 Raven Crag

The alarm buzzed at 7 am on a sunny Sunday morning. Kyle rolled over and hit dismiss and we fell back to sleep. No alpine start for us today! We finally left Calgary at 10:30 am, heading for Banff to climb Plutonian Shore, a 5.9 sport multi-pitch route. After sitting in traffic on Highway 1, only a few kilometers west of the Cochrane turn-off, we bailed on that and turned around, heading for the 1A. We were not the only ones who had that idea and it took us forever to get through Cochrane. As a result, we finally made it to Canmore around 12:30. To add to the faff of the day we stopped to drop some shoes off to be resoled and picked up a coffee. Finally, we made it to Banff and parked at the Cave and Basin parking lot to head for Raven Crag.

The approach was very straight-forward. We followed the paved road to the bottom of the hill, then took the dirt trail up to the left (identified by a sign indicating area closures). About 300 metres up the trail, there was a small cairn marking a narrow trail heading up to the left. Once we were on the trail, it was easy to follow the cairns up to the crag. At the fork, we took the lower left trail which traversed under the cliffs. The descent trail joined back up with the approach trail at that same fork. The start of the climb was at the end of the traverse trail and was obvious thanks to the well bolted route.
Kyle leads the second pitch
 The climb was quick, fun and uneventful. It seemed like we were on the only piece of rock in all of the Bow Valley that was in the shade, which wasn't so bad considering it was at least 25 degrees out. The seven pitches (ranging from 5.6-5.9 sport climbing) were long and fun. The only issue I had was finding the anchor at the top of the last pitch as I traversed too far right to join up with another sport route that topped out in the same spot.
Shady crag in the sunny Bow Valley
 Once we topped out, we continued up the ridge looking for the descent trail. It turns out you didn't have to go up the ridge at all. What we should have done instead was walk up a few metres to gain the ridge then find the cairn that marks the way down. Oh well, we got a bit of an extra walk in!
Kyle at the top of Plutonian Shores
Walking back down the ridge to the descent trail
 It took us only about 30 mins to get back down to the Cave and Basin area. We decided to check it out as neither of us had been to that part of Banff before. It was worth the minimal effort and the interpretive walk was pretty cool through all sorts of natural hot springs.
Sulphur hot spring at Cave and Basin
Sludge in the water - wouldn't want to swim in that!

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