Heart Line (17 pitches, 5.9)

~ By JonnyPublished July 16, 2018

Heart line is a multi-pitch route located on the north-west side of Heart Mountain near Canmore Alberta. It is a link up of a number of older routes up a fairly defined ridgeline on the mountain, mostly retrofitted with newer bolts and anchors where needed. It is roughly 17 pitches long, starting at Heart Creek near the Bunny Hill, and ending directly at the summit.

The climbing is mostly excellent, with a few forgettable pitches in between. The bolting is good, but a little spaced/run out in spots. However, all the crux pitches are well bolted, and are full value for the grade (5.9).

Jolene had been excited to climb this route for a long time, and the stars finally aligned one saturday with perfect weather for us to make it happen. We started early in the morning, as it was projected to be quite hot in the afternoon. This ended up being a very good idea, as the route is in full sun in the late afternoon!

Jolene lead the majority of the pitches throughout the day, until she started to run out of energy around pitch 11, where I took over for the remaining 5-6 pitches

There are 3 or 4 prominent overlaps high up on the face, which makes for a very interesting climb and separates the route into very distinct sections of face climbing, separated by rubbly ledges.

The first few pitches are fairly low angle, leading up a shallow/wide gulley from the creekbed to gain a prominent ridge at pitch 6, roughly 1/3rd of the way up the mountain. Here you put the rope away briefly to gain about 100m of elevation to the base of the first major wall.

One important note on this route is that pitch 9 only has 2 bolts, both of which are essentially hidden from the anchors. It starts with a long upwards traverse left to the first bolt. The whole pitch is roughly 25 meters. We ended up missing the bolts on this one and Jolene ended up soloing this pitch! A little jarring, but fortunately the climbing wasn’t too difficult, despite the high consequences of a fall.

The crux pitches are Pitch 13 & 15, with a short bolt ladder separating these two. The bolt ladder is a little bit strenuous, and might be a bit reachy for shorter people. Fortunately we were able to get through this without any significant difficulty. Might be worth bringing a daisy chain or expandable stick clip if your wingspan is on the short side.

The crux pitches (5.9/5.8) are excellent quality, with good holds and fun climbing up a number of steep walls. The first crux pitch is relatively strenuous for the grade, and the second is not quite as hard, and has some interesting moves. Both are well bolted, and lots of fun!

The upper pitches meandre through the upper cliff bands to reach the summit proper. Nothing too difficult, however the last pitch might be the crux depending on how sore your feet are at that point! Be sure to bring a few extendable draws as these pitches tend to wander a fair bit.

The views are superb as you reach the summit, and offer a stunning view into the Heart Creek Valley, Bow Valley, and towards Yamnuska. The descent is the classic scramble route, which has a few sketchy sections of ball-bearing rocks on slab, but is otherwise fairly uneventful. Watch out for scramblers and hikers, as this trail gets busy on warm sunny days!

Overall, the route is a lot of fun, and I would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a casual outing on a long route to the summit of a peak. The route is easy to access, and has a simple descent. It is well bolted, mostly easy route-finding (with the exception of pitch 9, traverse left!!), and is relatively clean considering the size of it. I have no doubt this will become a classic and see a great deal of traffic in the years to come.

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