If you are passionate about rock climbing in the Park, then you know that a good climbing guide for this area is hard to come by.
Francois Leplante is hoping to change that.
“This place desperately needs a guidebook,” Leplante said. “It’s just a shame that these areas are not known.”
Leplante made the move to Jasper in July 2014 specifically to develop a climbing guide for the park and
immediate area. He says that he realized the need for it when he started coming out to Jasper from Edmonton to climb after moving there in 2012. Leplante was lucky enough to connect with local climbers who helped him discover crags and areas that he would have otherwise not known about. He wants to write a guidebook to be able to share Jasper’s hidden gems with others.
“It’s so sad, you get to a beautiful area and there’s good climbing – awesome rock quality, beautiful scenery and it’s so amazing but there’s no one (else) there.”
Leplante acknowledges that a good climbing guide would bring in more traffic to crags that locals have had to themselves for years but because Jasper is more isolated than Canmore or Banff, he doesn’t believe that a rise in popularity will lead to overcrowding at the rock climbing locations.
Leplante also hopes that a current, high-quality guidebook will also inspire a resurgence in route development in the area.
“I wanted to write this book so that more climbers can come in and within those climbers, have more experienced climbers who are willing to discover… the potential of this place and start setting more routes,” Leplante explained.
After a development boom in the 80’s, progress in setting new Jasper routes slowed significantly. Today, little to no development is happening in or around Jasper.
Leplante started to outline his book last April. Since moving to Jasper and making writing the guidebook his main focus he has been able to complete the majority of the book. It has been mostly a solo project for him, having written the content and taken most of the photographs that will be featured in the book as well as doing the book design completely by himself.
He called the process time consuming, especially the tedious tasks of hand drawing aerial maps of each location. Leplante hopes that the coming summer will allow him to finish the few areas he has yet to cover so that he is able to publish in early spring next year.