Getting lost… at the Lost Boys

Just 30 minutes southwest of Jasper town site lies a climbers paradise. Located near Leech Lake, this crag was discovered by Jasper locals in the summer of 1994.

The immaculate quartzite of “The lost boys” offers some of the best sport climbing in the Jasper area. The lines here are some of the best I have seen in the Rockies. The multilevel overhanging cliffs range from 10 to 20 metres tall, and from relaxing and enjoyable to ridiculously hard.

Sport climbing involves clipping a carabiner system into a pre- drilled bolt in the rock. Once you have attached to the bolt, you can clip the rope into the other end of a quick draw thus preventing a fall. As you climb higher, the risk of hitting the ground becomes lower with every bolt clipped. There are two bolts at the top of the climb to secure yourself and safely get down. The rope most climbers use is 60 metres long (200 feet) and depending on the climber’s needs it is 9.5 to 10.5 millimetres thick and has a breaking strength of several thousand kilograms.

Many of the routes of this area are marked as mixed routes in the guidebook, which means they require quick draws, and a small assortment of traditional climbing gear; such as nuts, which are used to wedge in cracks, and cams, which are placed in cracks and expand when they are loaded with weight. These pieces come in handy when the bolts are spaced far apart.

We start off at a beautiful little route called “Saturday night special”. It’s given a rating of 10 a/b in the guidebook which isnin the middle of the scale of what an average climber can do. I have climbed this route many times, but it has been 6 years since I have last been to “The lost boys”. I start climbing towards the first bolt which is 8 metres off the ground. My climbing partner Tyler and my wife Noemi call out support as I nervously edge closer and closer to the bolt. I’m 1 metre away from it when my arms start to give in. I blindly stuff a cam into a crack and clip the rope in. I climb the remaining metre and secure myself to the bolt. Finding a good rest I shake out my hands and prepare for the hardest section of the climb. Reaching up I find a good hold and start to remember the following moves. Straining for a tiny ledge I move my feet up and gain a very uncomfortable rest, having just enough strength to secure my rope before I fall. 2 metres below the bolt I shake my head and smile. After climbing this route dozens of times it is still teaching me something. We spend the rest of the day testing ourselves against many other routes.

Whether you like technical slab and face climbing, or overhanging roof climbs with monster hand holds; this area offers it all, including the best (only?) Quartzite climbing
in the Jasper area.

If you’d like more information on “The Lost Boys”, please email Ross Ballard: bluegreenwaters@hotmail.com.