Calgary Mountain Club

THOS Descent route

THOS Descent route
This House of Sky – CMC Descent

In October 2020 there was a fire in the Ghost that left the normal walk off from This House Of Sky (THOS) choked with fallen trees. That firefall made it impractical to even reach the gully that had the hand line in it and the hand line was melted at the top too. For a spell it seemed rapping back down the canyon was the best (only) option.

Further investigation by John Lajeunesse and Linda Roe resulted in blazing a new trail with flagging tape. That flagging was later enhanced by Grant Parkins and Ken Wiens. As well, a hand rope was added to one particularly steep section.

From the top of the canyon and the last belay station as you exit the canyon, turn hard right and walk along the top of the cliff line. Its a great view spot to sit and have a bite of lunch before you head into the burned trees. Look for the pink flagging and follow the flat ground for a couple minutes. Watching for the pink flagging you'll see it heads down a steepish slope down to the flat bench below. Keep watching for the pink flagging, its not heavily flagged but the next is usually visible if you look around a bit. It'll lead you away from the slope and over a small rise. On your right you'll see a drop and ugly steep slope that drops down into the THOS canyon. After the small rise the flagging will lead you down another steep slope to a 3rd flat bench, then a short way across it and another steep slope. To this point the trees and bush are fairly light but still fire damaged. When you get down on to the next bench its noticeably thicker burned trees and firefall and the pink flagging has you make a right turn and picking a way through the black firefall. We cut a couple logs to make it a wee bit easier but many of the fallen logs can just be stepped over. A little switch-backing down the slope puts you back on slightly more open ground again and heading over towards a bit of a knoll where you contour around it and losing elevation as you descend across the slope down and rightwards. This will lead you to a hand line attached to two bolts. It's easy enough to scramble down this scrappy short draw, using the hand line. However if it makes you more comfortable, the top of the hand line near the anchor includes two rap rings and you can set up a rap. Maybe handy if you have a newbie or two with you but if you soloed up most of THOS then the hand line will be plenty easy for you. From the end of the hand line you're basically taking a straight ish line following the cusp of the hill, and the steeper slope to your right will drop back into the THOS canyon along its lower section. A nice longish walk down brings you to an increasingly steeper section before the short final steep section deposits you back on the approach trail, just a minute before you originally made the right turn into the THOS canyon. Once back on the approach trail there is no more pink flagging, just reverse the approach back to the car.

The quality of this descent may vary depending on the amount of snow you're going through. Plunge stepping down the steeper bits is easy at times. Other times, the snow hides logs. Early season there might be logs that if cleared would make it easier. There is no defined trail, its essentially a bushwhack with fairly little bushwhacking. It would be quite feasible to pack away your harness and tools after the climb. A trekking pole came in very handy I found, and with the trees being predominantly black, having an old pair of gloves or a pair of work gloves would avoid messing up decent ice climbing gloves.

This descent leaves you at almost the beginning of the ice climb (not in the ghost river valley as previous descents did)

The CMC Descent route was created by John Lajeunesse, Linda Roe, Grant Parkins and Ken Wiens

For those wanting the download a GPX file (for the GPS), it is attached to this page.

Download GPX file

The yellow line is the THOS climb. The blue line is the descent route.