This ridge offers many great views of the Lake Louise area. The rock quality is mostly quite solid and sometimes really good. Nice exposure in places. Lots of scrambling with a few short steeper parts. Crux is near the top and can be bypassed. Some loose towers to climb over but more solid than the Victoria traverse. Routefinding is an interesting challenge and will determine the difficulty encountered. Rope-soloed by Walter Perren in 1951.
From the shores of Lake Louise, hike the well-signed low-angle trail to Lake Agnes and the teahouse. Follow a large trail around Lake Agnes and up to the Beehive-Devil's Thumb col (climber's left side of lake). Walk along the ridge towards the Thumb and up a short ways until a cairned game/climbers trail contours along the south side of the Devil's Thumb. Great views along here of the Plain of 6 Glaciers area.
The trail will take you out into an open draw below the Whyte-Thumb col. Go up to the col. Bypass the first loose steep tower by contouring a few hundred metres on indistinct trails on the south side of the ridge to another small open draw. Scramble up scree and rock to the low point on the ridge.
Scramble up the ridge, often moving to the left or right side of the ridge crest to find easier passages through steeper sections. Rubble covered ledges are the norm. There may be more than one way to go, but difficulty should never need to exceed low 5th class. Fixed gear is minimal, as are rap slings. Enjoy the views and generally solid rock (relative to this area).
Near the top you will encounter the obvious crux pitch: a corner crack in a broad scoop along the ridge crest. The start is steep and somewhat loose with some fixed pins.
I don't know anyone who thinks that this is 5.6! One of the most notorious sandbags in the Dougherty's Select guide. Grabbing slings and stepping on the many pitons is common practice. The upper part of the crack is probably around 5.6 but the grade for the overhanging bottom section ranges up to 5.10hard depending who you talk to. This rock band can be bypassed on the north side via exposed loose ledges then loose slopes to rejoin the ridge above the crux.
The bypass is not pleasant, but keeps the difficulty to low 5th class and enables a reasonable ropeless ascent or all-around less technical day. The Boles guidebook suggests a bypass around to the left of the crux pitch via a corner (no grade given) but I have never tried this option. Loose towers lead to the first and second summits. The descent is loose and devious but manageable with lots of small ridges to be crossed and 3rd class down-climbing - start by following cairns from rappel slings a short distance along the north ridge.
A broad ridge connects Whyte to Niblock...refer to Niblock-Whyte traverse route. Descend from here as for standard Niblock ascent route.
light boots or approach shoes
cord for slinging blocks if planning to belay
rope and a half-dozen finger to hand-sized pieces
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