“Back of the Lake” climbs at Lake Louise is one of the few places you are sure to catch beginners and pros side by side. The routes range from 5.3 to 5.13. I did not know anybody actually rated 5.3 climbs as I solo up to 5.8 myself, but I also sure in the hell don’t touch 5.12’s either. Most of the routes are along the busy tourist trail where you will be heavily gawked at by tourists. Louise Falls, however, takes some calorie burn to reach off of the beaten path, so it definitely offers more peaceful climbing. I consider this one of the best locations anywhere in Banff National Park to take beginners. It is also the location of one of the most popular ice climbs in the park. So essentially you can climb the same route(s) on rock in the summer or ice in the winter.
From the Lake Louise Trailhead parking area, approach the Lake from the east and circle around the north side via a trail all the way to the west end of the lake. As you approach the end of the lake and some steep rock walls in front of you which consist of a bunch of 5.10’s that make up “Trailside to Louise Falls”, you want to leave the well trodden tourist trail and follow the steep rock to your right onto a non-descript trail which leads up a couple of hundred feet to some easy 30 meter routes that are to the left of a low volume waterfall coming down the rock face. The more challenging routes at Louise Falls are on the adjoining wall (Zen Wall) on the other side (right) of the waterfall.
Left to Right before the Falls (Small to Medium Pro on all of these routes- some bolts)
Ryan’s Eliminate 5.5 3 Bolts to Bolted Station
Pinguicula 5.6 2 Bolts to same Bolted Station
Please Don’t Step...Flowers 5.6 3 Bolts to Tree
Midget’s Mantel 5.6 4 Bolts to another Tree
Cruise Control 5.5 2 Bolts to Bolted Station
Louise Sticks It 5.6 4 Bolts to Bolted Station
Left to Right after the Falls (Zen Wall)
Crank if You Love Jesus 5.11b/c 4 Bolts to Bolted Station
Lords of Karma 5.11d-R 6 Bolts to same Bolted Station
(R=potentially dangerous run out- use long draws)
Zen Arcade (Wild Route!) 5.11c 6 Bolts to same Bolted Station
The quartzite is clean and hard here. The Louise Falls routes can be a little wet and mossy however. The views from belay or climbing positions are incredible if you are not used to staring at Lake Louise all day. Although the tourists can still see you on route, you are far enough away that you have a much better wilderness feel up here versus down by the trail. Mount Fairview is directly across the lake and makes for a fine view as well. If the weather is iffy and you are looking for a sport climbing day, this makes for a fine objective due to its accessibility. Worse case scenario via bad weather is that you end up back in the bar or cafeteria at the Chateau.
Essential GearSingle 60 meter Rope, Rack of mostly small to medium gear, Climbing Shoes, Helmet, etc.
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