Frank Slide Bouldering

Bouldering has become an extremely popular activity in the Frank Slide. On any given day, you will see multiple groups of people hiking into the vast expanse of the slide in search of limestone boulders to test their climbing skills. On their backs, they carry padded foam mats – crash pads, to be placed at the base of the boulder. It’s the only form of protection from injury they have, should they fall. This type of free climbing is made without the use of ropes or harnesses.

Several days ago, I was driving along the Old Slide Road, between Hwy. 3 and Turtle Mountain, when I noticed three people climbing a large sheer face boulder about 5 meters (16 feet) in height. I found a place to park close by, then scrambled up a jumble of rocks to reach them, camera in hand.

Reaching the top of Prow Boulder

The trio, Kristine, Elise, and Sven, were very friendly and more than happy to talk with me. I knew the boulder they were scaling likely had a name, as I discovered last summer while photographing another group of climbers. They had explained to me that the bouldering community has named hundreds of boulders in the slide. It turns out this particular boulder is called the Prow.

Gripping rock

Most boulders like the Prow have several routes (problems) you can take to reach the top. The problems have ratings assigned to them, based on their difficulty. The ratings range from V0 (beginner) to V17 (professional). The problems have names of their own. One that I like is called, Pain for Pleasure. With a name like that, it must be challenging.

There is a smartphone app available that climbers use to locate the various boulders in the slide. The app also provides photos showing the problems. Facebook is another place to find information on bouldering in the Frank Slide and YouTube has some excellent videos.

Another great climb

I spent about twenty minutes photographing the young climbers while watching their technique. They were extremely agile and used every crack, crevice, and toehold to their advantage. I was impressed – they made it look easy. I can see where being tall and having long limbs is an asset in this sport. I don’t have these physical attributes but if I was a few years younger, I would probably give it a go anyway. Well, maybe not!

Scaling Albatross Boulder in 2020

Final Thoughts

Bouldering is yet another example of an environmentally friendly recreational activity available in Crowsnest Pass. Sometimes, we don’t realize how many things are available for us to do around here. It’s easy to take things for granted and we can become jaded living in a place such as this. When I see the enthusiasm of people, especially young people, participating in something they are passionate about in Crowsnest Pass, it makes me appreciate this place, even more.

A sea of boulders
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  1. Olympus Mountaineering May 9, 2021 at 2:35 am #

    Excellent post with nice boulders.
    Prow Boulder seems to have some very interesting lines to climb.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Vic Bergman May 9, 2021 at 11:41 am #


      The climbers were having a lot of fun on Prow Boulder that day. I had a great time watching and taking photos. It looks like a fun sport. Thanks for visiting!

  2. Terry Maurer May 4, 2021 at 6:23 pm #


    Very interesting – and I am impressed that these young folks (they all look pretty young and flexible) can do this without the benefit of a rope.

    Me? I’d need a rope.

    • Vic Bergman May 5, 2021 at 10:32 am #

      Hi Terry,

      It’s nice to hear from you. I was impressed with how flexible these climbers are. I know what you are saying about needing a rope. I would need one too. You and I have some experience using ropes while scaling cliffs, so we would probably be okay. Hope all is well there.

  3. Walter Hildenbrandt May 2, 2021 at 12:37 pm #

    Good afternoon Vic. Thanks as always for sharing your knowledge regarding The Crowsnest area. Thanks again.

    • Vic Bergman May 2, 2021 at 8:24 pm #

      Hi Walter,

      There’s no shortage of things to do in the Pass. I had a great time watching the people bouldering. They shared some of their knowledge with me and were very nice. Thanks for commenting. I appreciate it!

  4. Terry H May 2, 2021 at 8:19 am #

    Oh to be young again, although I doubt youth would be enough to get me to the top. I’d seen all the cars at the Hwy 3 pullout and often with nobody around. Then I noticed folks with the big pads and figured it out. As you said Vic, it really is nice to see young people out and busy with a sport like that.

    • Vic Bergman May 2, 2021 at 8:18 pm #

      Hi Terry,

      I’m using my age as an excuse for not trying this, too. I had seen the vehicles as well and wondered what was going on. It’s pretty neat watching them climb the boulders. If I had to choose a boulder to climb in the slide, it would be Big Rock, just downstream of where Gold Creek enters the Crow. It’s the rock kids jump from into the river during the summer. This way, I would land in the water when I fall. Thanks for commenting!

  5. robert garnier May 1, 2021 at 5:45 pm #

    Vic: Timely and appropriate post on “Bouldering” as this morning after a hike along Gold Creek I saw 20 plus cars and people carrying “crash pads” on HWY 3 Slide section. Each year there are more and more people engaging in the activity. The municipality needs to take note and create some safer parking areas for them off of the HWY and even put in some porta potties. I often thought some big decks or platforms amongst the boulders would also be cool for people to gather and have lunch. As you say it is an “environmentally friendly” activity. We should welcome and promote it. Nice post on “bouldering” and our area. You need to put a big challenging climbing rock outside the fly shop!

    • Vic Bergman May 2, 2021 at 8:04 pm #

      Hi Bob,

      I think it’s great that people are coming to the Pass to spend time bouldering in the slide. They are also spending money here which helps the local economy. Having a bouldering rock at the shop is a great idea. I just need to find a couple of people to help roll one over to our property from the slide. Thanks for the suggestion!

  6. David D May 1, 2021 at 9:43 am #

    These days I would have trouble getting over the boulders in your last picture called sea of boulders. But it’s nice to see the younger crowd out enjoying good clean fun. I can live vicariously through them.

    • Vic Bergman May 1, 2021 at 10:20 am #

      Hi David,

      I know what you mean about having trouble getting over the boulders, let alone climbing them. I think I’ll stick to taking photos. There were quite a few vehicles parked at the slide this morning when I passed by. The climbers were getting an early start. It’s a great day for bouldering. Thanks for commenting.

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