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Phantom Crag

Winter Scramble With Single Alpine Pitch
Elevation [m]: 
Round Trip Distance [km]: 
Net Elevation Gain [m]: 
Total Elevation Gain [m]: 
YDS Difficulty: 
5.4 (dry)
Ascent Time: 
Moderately dense near the creek
Saturday, January 17, 2015

It was the 17'th of January and none of Steven, Vern, or myself had climbed any peaks in 2015, clearly this was a matter to be rectified!  Our original plan was to head south down to the Livingston Range but scared off by a wind warning (gusts up to 110km/hr at ground level!) decided to stick further north.  After the usual disccusion we decided upon heading into the Ghost up the appropriately ghostly named Phantom Crag.  Vern agreeded to drive, and his mighty Nissan managed to brave the perils of the icy approach 'road' (read, river) to get us only a few km from the approach valley.  We arrived in good time to take some excellent sunrise pictures with nice reflections on the frozen Ghost River.


A flaming sky (and even the moon) above the Ghost River.

Great looking sunrise this morning.

Always excellent color photographing frozen rivers.

Vern enjoying the scenery.

Steven with Blackrock Mountain in the background.

The mighty Phantom Crag.

On we go, our route ascends the first creek behind Vern.

There were still patches of open water.


For our route up Phantom Crag we followed some previous trip reports from summer (by the Ramblers and a google+ album) which described a scramble route with one 5'th class pitch to break past the summit block.  The route goes from the Ghost River and heads up the first creek curving back to Phantom Crag through a canyon with numerous bolted sport routes.  From there we pretty much just headed upwards occasionally drifting left or right to avoid rock bands and get an occasional break from the frosty wind.


Steven negotiating a canyon near some bolted sport routes.

Quite windy up here!

Getting a look at the summit block of Phantom Crag.

Steven and Vern trudging up unsupportive snow.


Once at the summit block we had to decide upon a way upwards.  We swiftly located the crack system that the other groups has used in summer but also scouted around for other options.  Vern liked the look of a snowy gully a bit to the east which after a short attempt proved to be an awkward off-width (with slippery rocky hindering mountaineer boot stem-ability!).  After trying this we headed back to the 'normal' crack and I axed a way up, setting up a top rope for Steven and Vern.  After the group was back together above the crux there was still some enjoyable moderate to low-difficult scrambling to reach the true summit (made more difficult by the strong wind gusts).  Views from the summit were quite excellent.  Seeing Lake Minnewanka from this angle (as well as most of The Ghost) was quite neat. 


Me leading up the 5.4 crack, photo by Steven Song.

Summit panorama looking towards Blackrock Mountain.

A slightly wider summit pano.

Looking eastwards to the rest of the Ghost River.

A neat look at Lake Minnewanka. 


After braving the wind for as long as seemed reasonable we started to head back down.  We decided upon rapping down the snowy gully we tried to ascend on the way up (after Steven spotted an excellent rock horn to use as a rap anchor).  Once below the summit block it was simply one foot in front of the other to make it back to the truck (careful to avoid the numerous branches and rocks in the very unsupportive snow).  Back down on the river there was some interesting pale blue light reflected from the river-ice which certainly looked ghostly!  Have to come back here sometime in the summer and check out some of the sport/trad routes up Phantom Crag!


Me descending down from the summit, photo by Steven Song.

Vern almost back down to the rap station.

Steven rapping down the summit block.

Back down by the creek, good looking rock lines across the way.

Ghostly glow on the river walking back to the truck.

Phantom Crag excessively HDR-ified.

Quite a short route distance-wise by driving on the river!

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