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Ghost Road Conditions - winter 2019/2020

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  • Ghost Road Conditions - winter 2019/2020

    Well with the first snowfall behind us and rumours already coming in, here we go with the 2019-2020 season. This thread is posted each year to track driving conditions in the Ghost and is also full of info on access that you should familiarize yourself with before venturing in there. Always be prepared, always carry beer as currency to buy help.

    As in previous seasons, lets keep road conditions in one thread. Once again I'll summarize the access situation and pertinent pointers for both a reminder and for climbers not familiar with the area.

    Access to #39 is relatively status quo. It's important to note that driving up to #39 is year round but then you're supposed to park and walk from there until 1-December. At that time it will be legal to drive back to Claw Creek until the seasonal access closes on 31-March.

    Keep this in mind when posting road conditions. While I welcome reports posted on road conditions observed on foot, nobody is allowed to drive back there until December so please make it clear you didn't drive when posting before December.

    Formal access is officially unchanged. For the more specific access info see these threads at the links below:
    >> Ghost Legal Access Information FAQ <<
    >> Ghost Access Regs - Discuss Here <<
    These threads are about legal access not approach beta. Approach beta and road conditions are right here in the thread you're currently reading.

    Nobody wants to damage vehicles in there including AESRD so avoiding busted oil pans or other fluids spilled is a good thing to protect access. In the meantime it is still recommended that driving into the Ghost should only be done with 4x4 and good clearance. Stock vehicles may safely navigate some sections but the more clearance you have, the better your chances. The north Ghost area requires significant capabilities currently (ie lifted vehicles are preferable).

    As I noted previous years, we should try to make the track in there well defined and use one trail. The reasoning is fairly simple - access is contingent on traffic following a defined track, thereby reducing braiding of trails and off track damage. As climbers it is also better to have an established track where errant rocks will not damage your vehicle. Losing an oil pan will not make for a stellar day, and no doubt would not sit well with any environmentalists who might want to cite it as reason to close our access again. We have to be seen as stewards of the area, not irresponsible yahoo.
    And remember - walking beyond #39 is legal, driving beyond #39 is legal after 1-December, posting observations of conditions/problems before 1-December is welcome if you were walking, and posting that you made it to Claw Creek in your Smart Car at any time is just plain unbelievable unless you carried it in.

    Last year I posted some info to better orient someone to the area. See last years post for original details but below is a summary for everyone and the map.

    The Ghost has three areas according to JoJo's guide.

    North Ghost is basically beyond Wulley.

    Devils Gap is Wicked Wanda/Malignant Mushroom and west.

    South Ghost is Orient Point, Big Drip, Polaris, etc.

    River crossings change during the season and can dry up or become immensely challenging. Here are the current crossings you'll encounter prior to #39

    Big Hill crossing - bottom of the hill.

    Crossing #35 - so named for the old marker that defined a track over to Blackrock but the marker was lost in the 2013 flood and we got a river in its place.

    The Ice Maze - between 35 and the Wully crossing the river meanders and changes each spring. As it freezes and floods extensive ice sheets develop. Sometimes it makes for flat easy driving, and other times vehicles break through and get screwed up and/or stuck. Crossings can vary throughout the winter creating a maze.

    Wulley crossing - fords the river aiming you at Wulley Wall/Canyon.

    #38 plus crossing - the old diversion structure and intersection is #38 and this crossing is a short way beyond it.

    The Ramp crossing - just after #38+ another crossing leads to a ramp into trees.

    To reach Devils Gap now the PMF berm is finalized, the way to approach Devils gap is from the base of the Big Hill, cross the flood channel towards the west side then turn and head south. A relatively flat track winds its way through the remnants of old berms, but instead of veering right towards the PMF berm, you'll see a big pile of gravel debris. Probably fair to call it a small hill. Stay on the east side of the hill and once past it and with the south end of the PMF berm to your right, there is a track hooks back to the right towards the PMF berm. This track passes between some large boulders at the berms south end, turns right again and over the berms smaller SW leg, and heads north up the far side of the PMF berm. A hundred meters or so up there are some more boulders and a left turn into the trees immediately before them. A marker bearing the designation of 26 is at this turn. The track in the trees leads to the kiosk at the Banff Park boundary where you park and walk.

    >> Link to the map <<

    ...or click on the image for a full size map

    I hope that last info and terminology helps clarify information for posts this winter.

  • #2

    If you're heading into the Ghost in the next few days use caution. I heard from a couple sources that it was icy on the TransAlta road and a Jeepers group posted a pic of a pickup that went sideways and hit a tree. I couldn't definitively tell which hill it was but the word was low gear and roll it out, don't brake and slide.


    • #3

      Generally good driving to get in there right now. TranAlta road was either bare or icy packed snow. As we left on Sunday there was very light rain which might make for some slippery conditions. It was slick here and there but unless you drive like an idiot you'll probably stay on the road.
      Down in the valley it was an easy drive to Devils Gap and the track through the trees was easy. Decent clearance is good for the ruts but stock 4x4 should handle it. No drifts. I've heard of vehicles going off the PMF berm and following the old track where the creek used to flow. This might be an alternative if the track in the trees were drifted but despite being an existing disturbance and previously sanctioned trail, its not technically the current official trail. I heard there was some drifting this way after the last snowfall too. Probably ok at the moment.
      |'ve seen reports that driving to #39 is currently in good shape for stock 4x4 with no problems noted.