May 20th was a day of firsts for me! My first time rock climbing outside; my first time at Stone Hill; my first (and last) time climbing in the rain!
There are HUNDREDS of documented routes at Stone Hill. There are climbing opportunities above the highway as well as below at many different levels of difficulty as well. For sport climbing, there are routes right next to the road that you can hike/scramble up to set the top rope, as well as many lead-climbing opportunities with anchors already set in the rock.
The drive from Lethbridge (Ab) took about 3.25 hours and as soon as we got there it started to drizzle. We met up with some folks with the Glacier Mountaineering society and reviewed a lot of the basics - knots, setting the top rope, belaying etc. while waiting for the rain to stop. It eventually did let up (unfortunately a few hours later) and we ended up trying a few climbs on slippery rock. I did 'Cripple's crack', an interesting 5.7 that had a bit of an overhang where I fell the first time. Cripple's crack must have been over 25 m (80 feet) high and it was pretty cool to ascend. I gave up on 'Mr. Papsmear' which was at least a 5.8 and required a move which I just could not do.
Photos by Alice Ford.
There is a guidebook (not widely available) that documents hundreds of routes...available at the RMO store (Rocky Mountain Outfitters) at Kalispell, Montana.
Stone Hill is on route 37 above the Kookanusa reservoir, 16 miles from the town of Eureka. Traveling from Canada, the nearest centre is Fernie, B.C. which is about an hour North (65 miles). Free camping is available nearby at camp 32!
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