photos: Tim McAllister
"BEST CLIMBING IN THE ROCKIES" UNSCATHED BY MALIGNE VALLEY WILDFIRE
“Best climbing in the Rockies” still in tact
Local rock climbers were relieved to learn that the crag known as Watchtower was preserved from the recent Excelsior Creek wildfire.
“The climbing is all good,” Greg Raymond announced.
“The extent of the damage to the crag itself is pretty minimal,” echoed Deryl Kelly. Kelly, a visitor safety technician with Parks Canada, investigated the scene on July 27, nearly three weeks after the 1,000 hectare fire roared up the Maligne Valley and engulfed the north and east sides of Medicine Lake.
Kelly reported that the approach to the wall, which is accessed from the north end of Medicine Lake, has been burned. However, the damage to the routes themselves are merely cosmetic.
“The trees, vegetation and soil above the climbs has been burned. Amazingly, as you approach the makeshift bridge near the lower tier, the bridge, ground and vegetation is relatively unaffected. All the routes are in need of a little brushing from the ash and dirt but otherwise completely unaffected,” he said.
Kelly and Tim McAllister climbed several of the routes to test the bolts. He said there were no issues found with the general condition of the bolts or the rock.
“We couldn’t get on all the routes but I would guess that this would be the case for the high majority of protection bolts and anchors.”
Although the rock was preserved, hazards still exist. High winds or rain storms should give users caution.
“Keep your head up and always wear a helmet.”
Kelly said it’s important to respect the regeneration process.
“A few footprints and small tree blazes mark the way following generally the exact path of the original trail. Keep the trail braiding to the absolute minimum. Arguably the best climbing in the Rockies is still in tact!”