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Owen Creek

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  • Owen Creek

    Sunday 17-Mar-2019

    So my buddy said he'd seen waterfalls up Owen Creek when hiking in summer. I looked in the book and the app and found Ceramic Engineer listed so off we trotted. Now the book does make mention of other ice near Ceramic Engineer however we hit a snag. A bootpack trail went to about 3/4 of the way there then ended at what looked to be someones camping area. We pushed on beyond but after very slow progress in thigh to waist deep snow, breaking trail, we called it quits. We returned to the slot canyon with the intention of trying to find something on the creek to salvage the venture. What we found, I find hard to believe we would be the first to explore. However I've found no routes listed in the app, checked the book and even double checked the 3rd edition in case. A search of GS-I here didn't bring any answers.

    I'm curious to learn if these routes have been climbed but seeing as there seems to be nothing recorded I'm going to list what we climbed here so others can explore. These were as climbed by Grant Parkin and Stormm Ravenda.

    Owen Creek Canyon

    There is a hiking trail goes far beyond the previously single listed climb known as Ceramic Engineer W3 however it sees little traffic in winter and snowshoes are highly recommended when no broken trail exists. The trail alongside the top of the narrow slot canyon is generally less of a slog than getting to Ceramic Engineer. Three areas are listed here but more seeps exist and wait to be found. The area is pretty flat around the top of the canyon and as such looks to be mostly free of avalanche hazard although might be subject to smaller sloughs from the sides. Worth noting that there is no walk out option so you'll have to climb out and the narrow slot would severely limit signals for emergency devices or radios. Something to keep in mind in case of accidents.


    5.9km east on the David Thompson highway from the Icefields Parkway and just inside the Banff Park boundary is Owen Creek. It may be necessary to park a little further along the shoulder depending on how wide the plough went before reaching the barrier over the creek. Drop into the drainage and walk upstream a few minutes until you reach the start of the slot canyon. The creek has quite a high flow volume and even in extremely cold winters doesn't seem to freeze well. Instead of trying to go into the slot, follow the right bank and go up the hill. The trail follows the right bank to the end of the slot canyon where the creek drops into a pothole and the upstream end of the slot canyon. It's about 1km and a 30-40 minute walk to reach the upstream end of the canyon with reasonable travel conditions.

    *UnOwen Dancer W3 30m

    The slot takes a bit of a turn and the trail loops around the top of this climb located 100-200m before the end of the slot. Some ice may be visible at a low spot on the lip of the climb. When rapping down to the floor of the slot, the snow floor collapsed and sank into the creek leading to a quick dance to keep dry feet and a semi hanging stance on a narrow ledge. However if the floor of the slot is open water, a fairly large ledge 3-4m above the creek provides a much better belay stance.

    *Don't Be An Archhole W3-4 20m

    Located some 50m before the end of the slot and although it can be spotted walking upstream, it's better seen looking downstream on the way back. A variety of options and can have either ice to the top or can lack ice at the lip, depending on the option chosen. The slot is quite narrow at the base in places here and at the upstream end leads into multiple potholes that have eroded and partially connected making various esthetic arches.

    *Storm In A Teapot W4- 20m

    Providing the slot floor is frozen, the best way to approach the base is via the wide wall of Don't Be An Archhole and into the upstream pothole. The climb forms at the upstream end of the slot where the creek drops into a pothole and can be wet with quite the thunder coming from the rushing water behind the falls. This is a very esthetic climb with an unusual ambiance. It exits at the top of the pothole and up to the right bank near the trail.

    Conditions this weekend had beautiful sunny weather for the top outs. Part of Don't Be An Archhole gets sun although Storm In A Teapot never will. The very top of UnOwen Dancer gets some sun. All three areas had some wet sections but it was avoidable and with waterproof pants and non waterproof jacket, I remained dry. Even avoided wet feet when the creek collapsed at the bottom of the rap. After that month of deep cold we had I wasn't surprised to get dinnerplating. Some lines took a bit of swinging and clearing yet other near the top of some lines it was hero swings. A great area to visit when avi hazard reduces choices, or if you want to set a top rope and rap in.

  • #2
    I have threatened to investigate these seeps for years but never got around to it. You have reignited my interest. Thanks for some current beta and more detailed instructions. Check out Edwina's photos on Flickr


    • #3
      Looks like most of those pics are around the wide flow I referred to as Don't Be An Archhole. Lots of various lines rightthere and named after the cool arches and holes around the potholes. The gem though is Storm In A Teapot. You should totally go check out this ice. PM me an email addy and I can send a tracklog and waypoints. I'll be submitting the same to Will for the I&M app.