Haddo Peak and Mount Aberdeen (not to be confused with Mount Aberdeen, Queensland, Australia) combine as one of the most common alpine objectives in the Lake Louise realm of Banff National Park (Canada’s 1st National Park and the world’s 3rd). Banff is one of four connecting national parks making up the central Canadian Rockies. Haddo Peak was named in 1916 after “Lord Haddo” of Aberdeen, Scotland’s 3rd largest city. It was first ascended in 1903 by Tewes and Bohren, almost 10 years after Mount Aberdeen even though it is a hike from the col. It maintains a large snow spot into late summer, seen from the TransCanada, that is similar to Snowpatch Spire in the Bugaboos and named the “Haddo Snow Spot”.
Haddo offers up two routes:
- Aberdeen Glacier/Southwest Ridge, II- The popular route which reaches the col between Haddo Peak and Mount Aberdeen allowing for a two summit day.
- Northeast Face, IV, 5.9- I have yet to do this route, but understand it is difficult to catch in condition and thus rarely done.
Ascent to Haddo Peak via Mount Aberdeen’s northern glacier provides a classic introduction into ice climbing and therefore quite a few Alpine Club of Canada trips are planned on this route every summer. What used to be a snow climb for much of the summer is now mostly an ice climb due to glacier retreat. Getting up the steep tongue (3 full pitches of ice) and crossing the bergshrund below the ice fall while protecting the ground above are the two main cruxes of the route. Although it is possible to descend to the south into Paradise Valley (our choice of descents), the Paradise Valley Trail has been decommissioned and thus the bridges demolished over Paradise Creek making this part of the descent the 3rd crux of the journey if you chose to descend the southwest ridge of Aberdeen. The three crossings required over Paradise Creek can be quite treacherous, particularly later in the day as ice and snow melt increase the flow and volume. Your total accumulated accent via the traditional route and bagging both Aberdeen and Haddo is 5200’+/-.
The north glacier route has six accident reports detailed at Alpine Accidents in Canada. Most of these occur on the first ice pitches to ascend the tongue. It is obvious via the log book and trip reports that many parties do not take the time to ascend Haddo Peak, even though it requires very little extra effort from the col.
Getting ThereThe Trans-Canada dissects Banff National Park east to west as you come in from Calgary. Travel to the Lake Louise exit and turn left through town and follow this road 5 km to its end at the Lake Louise parking area. You should park at the “upper” parking lot to give you a few more feet head start. The Saddleback trail starts near the boathouse along the southern lake shore and passes by all the parking areas. Take the Saddleback Trail to the saddle between Saddle Peak and Fairview (3.7 km at 2200' gain). If you are running shuttle for the Paradise Valley exit, park a vehicle at the Paradise Trailhead off of Lake Moraine Road. However, this shuttle only saves you 2kms of extra hiking versus staying on the Moraine Lake Trail to Lake Louise.
Red TapeYou will be required to purchase a national park pass as you enter the park. This pass is good for all four national parks. If you plan many visits to Canadian National Parks within one year, you should purchase an annual pass. There are no permit requirements to climb in Banff National Park, but all camping is regulated. There is also a backcountry permit required if you plan on spending a night in the backcountry versus the town campsites. This can be obtained via the parks website which is included in the camping section below. Park headquarters are located in Banff and you will drive through the manned kiosks as you enter the park.
This is active grizzly country and thus why Paradise Trail has been officially decommissioned. Hike out the Paradise Trail at risk of Grizzly or Park penalty. This is one of the reasons many choose to descend the ascent route via V-Threads.
When to ClimbI climbed Mount Aberdeen in July. Earlier in the year, snow will make the ascent easier, but the transformation between snow cover and hard ice can be perilous making June normally a bad month to climb Aberdeen. The month of May can often result in too much post holing during the approach. As of 2007, there are six published accident reports related to Mount Aberdeen, several relating to conditions.
Camping/LodgingThe closest camp site would be back in town at the Lake Louise Campground. You can go on line at Banff National Park to pick a camp site and obtain your camping permit. You will also be required to obtain your backcountry permit which is separate, but can be obtained simultaneously if you plan on camping at a backcountry site. The Lake Louise Alpine Center Hostel is a great place to eat and has been recently renovated, but is more expensive than your average hostel. Of course those with the big bucks can camp out at the Chateau itself. The Paradise Valley backcountry campsite is no longer in existence due to converting the area back to Grizzly habitat.
Mountain ConditionsThe Banff National Park website has weather, wildlife reports, trail closures, etc. Outside of the park’s website, Canadian Avalanche Association is also useful, particularly for winter travel. Canadian Alpine Accident Reports is also extremely relevant.
dd Red Tape text here.