This is a quartzite tower in the Moraine Lake, Lake Louise area of the Canadian Rockies. It is a large rock tower/obelisk on the north side of Pinnacle Mountain. A dramatic and unusual sight and not something you think you will find in the Canadian Rockies.
The Grand Sentinel is in the beautiful and famous Valley of the Ten Peaks. This valley is depicted on the Canadian 20 dollar bill. The hike alone with Moraine lake, The Valley Of The Ten Peaks, a flower filled alpine meadow and movement above the tree line is enough to make the day memorable. The Larch Valley Trail is the highest major trail in the Rockies. And has been called the most beautiful day hike in Canada.
The rock on the Grand Sentinel is excellent and takes great protection. A light trad rack to 2 inches should be enough for most climbers. There is rock fall potential especially from the loose 5.4 variation so wear a helmet.
This is a 4 pitch climb.
The first pitch is 5.4 and short
The second pitch is 5.7.
The third pitch climbs a very nice dihedral that is capped with a roof. The third pitch goes at 5.8.
The final pitch goes at 5.8 and is a very nice jamming crack. Although you can escape to the side and summit via a 5.4. The 5.4 variation is lose and it sucks but it is pretty easy.
This can be a busy route. There were 3 groups on it the day we climbed it.
The Cardiac Arete is on the right corner of the Grand Sentinel. To access this fine 5.10d bolted climb just walk right to the corner of the tower from the base of the trad route.
There are many wonderful peaks to bag in this area including Mount Temple, Mount Fay, Pinnacle mountain, and Mount Babel. The traverse of the10 peaks is called one of the best traverses in the Rockies and is something I would love to do someday. The Neil Colgan hut is located in a great position to access some of these mentioned peaks but is of no use for climbing the Grand Sentinel.
Drive out of Lake Louise town site towards Lake Louise. Turn onto the posted Moraine Lake road and follow this for 13 kilometers until arriving at the Moraine lake parking lot.
From the parking lot walk past the Moraine Lake lodge and follow the well marked Larch Valley trail to Sentinel Pass.(6 km; 800 m elevation gain) On average a 2 to 2.5 hour hike. From the top of Sentinel pass you will see the Grand Sentinel 0.5 km NW of the pass. Contour left along the North slope of Pinnacle Mountain and hike up the wide talus slope to the base of the Grand Sentinel. Then climb the path of least resistance through a gully to the left/uphill side of the tower. The route follows the obvious corner system on the uphill side of the tower. Approximately a 6 to 8 hour day.
Grizzly bears are a everyday problem on this trail. This is not hard to take care of as you can wait at the trail head for regular hikers and hike in groups.
There is no summit fee.
Back country use permits are required in Banff National Park if you plan to spend the night..
For information about about trials, weather, back country permits and campgrounds go to the Parks Information Center at the North East corner of the Samson parking lot in Lake Louse township.
When To Climb
July to September
All kinds of facilities are available in the area from the 5 star world class Chateau Lake Louise to more reasonable Alpine Club youth hostels and camp grounds.
Banff Park Ranger (403) 762-4506