First ascent August 3rd, 1897. Harold Dixon, Charles Fay, Arthur Michael, J. R. Vanderlip, Charles Noyes, Charles Thompson, Herschel Parker, Norman Collie, Peter Sarbach via the West Face.
To get to Lake O'Hara or Lake Louise. From Calgary take the Trans Canada (1) west through Canmore, Banff to Lake Louise. For Lake O'Hara you must continue for another 20 minutes on the TransCanada.
Via Lake Louise If your daring and willing to risk fate then go via the "The Death Trap". It's a very tight, very deep and steep glaciated valley that runs from Abbot Pass down to the Plain of Six Glaciers. This is were all the big avalanches run, so be careful!
The alternative to the "Death Trap" is the asending the "Fuhrmann Ledges, a lower shoulder of Mount Lefroy and following the upper portion to Abbot's pass. This is briefly described in Bill Corbett's "the 11,000ers of the Canadian Rockies". Which is a worthwhile addition to anyones climbing guide's library.
If your looking for the safe approach, then go via Lake O'Hara. The approach takes half a day, but except for the last 500 feet of scree up to Abbots pass it is an easy effort.
First catch the shuttle bus which is the only vehicle allowed on the road pas the parking lot (contact the Alpine Club of Canada for hut & bus reservations) or hike the 13km up the dirt road. It is closed to private vehicles. Follow the trail left around the edge of Lake O'Hara up to Lake Oesa and then continue up the steep slopes, north to Abbot Pass. The Last part is a bit of a chore, but the first part is on an amazing trail built by Lawrence Grassi. It has to be seen to be believed. Huge flat stones have been placed along the trail making this hike so much easier. Trail worthy of ancient Rome.
You will have to purchase a parks pass upon entry to the park at Banff. Should you wish to camp a backcountry permit will be needed. You should check in and out with the rangers at Lake Louise.
Backcountry wilderness permits can be purchased in Banff or Lake Louise. Park Passes are also required for your vehicle and can be bought at the east gates while entering the park via Calgary or at the Info Centers.
Rates for Parks Canada as of July 1, 2005:
Wilderness Backcountry: $9/night
Wilderness Pass: $63/year
Reservation Fee: $12/group
Also be advised that there have been Bear closures in the area. There are also areas the Lake O'Hara area that have restricted access. Contact the Info Centers for more information.
When To ClimbThe summer season is the best time to climb the peak. June can be a bit early depending on the weather conditions, but still possible. Sept is a nice time to climb. Be sure to reserve your spot at the Hut as it can fill up fast during peak climbing periods.
Wardens Issue Avalanche Advisory for Climbers
A cool and wet spring season has contributed to creating poor travel conditions and increased avalanche danger on the alpine climbing routes in the Rockies. The danger rating for steep snow covered slopes in the alpine is currently rated at CONSIDERABLE.
Large snowfall amounts along with heavy rain at times in June created a rain soaked snowpack covered by a thin crust at the higher elevations. Recent cooler weather with dry snow and strong wind loading has in turn formed a winter type slab on top of the crust on some slopes. In late June and early July there have been several climber triggered avalanches up to size 2.5 on alpine routes in the Rockies with the latest one occurring on July 09th on the North Glacier on Mt. Athabasca. Slabs up to 80cm in depth with wide propagations have been observed. In addition, there have been several large natural avalanches up to size 3.5 over the last week related to isothermal wet snow avalanching, cornice failures and serac falls. Park Wardens are advising climbers to exercise extra caution when evaluating steep snow covered slopes and glaciated terrain. Conditions are unusual for this time of year and will not improve until we have an extended period of strong melting and overnight freezes. Avalanche training, experience and avalanche rescue equipment are recommended for climbing on routes with potential avalanche danger. An additional hazard to watch for are thinly bridged crevasses which may be difficult to observe due to recent storm snow and wind drifting. Further information on climbing routes and conditions can be obtained by calling the Park Wardens at 403-762-1470.
Thanks to Dow Williams for this lastest information on conditions 2005
Abbot Hut is located at the base of the South Ridge. It is maintained by the ACC. For reservations call 403-678-3200. $24/night for non-members, $19/night for members.
One place that is recommended is the ACC/Hostel in Lake Louise. This place has a small cosy restaurent with good food as well as kitchen facilities and lots of room for approx 36$ Canadian a night. While this is twice as much as the ACC lodge in Canmore it is still a bargin when compaired to the cost of hotels in the area.
Elizabeth Parker hut
Another "camping" option near Lake O'Hara is the Elizabeth Parker hut, owned & maintained by the Alpine Club of Canada. Reservations can be made through the AAC: (403) 678-5855. The hut is locked; make certain you get the lock combination when making reservations.
The Alpine Club of Canada
Banff Lake Louise Tourist Bureau
Joining a club such as The Alpine Club of Canada is recommended when climbing in Canada. While it is not obligatory, useful information can be had at any of their main Clubhouse in Canmore, or at their website which is open to everyone.
Staying at the club in Canmore is 15$ Canadian for members and 19$ for non-members. It can get quite crowded in the summer so a reservation is recommended. Staying at the hostel in Lake Louise is more at 36$ Canadian but is good value for the money.
Weather forecasts are available, on the web weather office or (403) 762-2088
If your seeking information on route conditions call the Lake Louise Warden office 403-522-1220. Banff or Lake Louise Public Safety Wardens 403-762-4506 or Mtn Magic Equipment (the boys on the climbing floor generally know how things are) 403-762-2591
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