OverviewWith distant views of Deltaform, Hungabee, The Goodsirs and closer views of Mounts Lefroy, Huber and Lake Louise. The view from this peak is outstanding. Listed as one of the great alpine climbs in Canada. The actual ridge is the Continental divide. Look to spend from 3.5-6 hours from the Abbot pass hut. This route can be done short roped or solo depend on your ability and confort level. Check weather conditions before heading up to the hut. I was snowed out just before the Sickle once, unstable and wet and mushy snow on another occasion. Third time lucky I was greeted with overnight freezing conditions and clear weather. Perfect.
Getting ThereLake Louise and Lake O'Hara are the starting points for Mt Victoria. Depending on which route you wish to climb you can chose your starting point. This route description deals with the Lake O'Hara approach.
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. Take the left route to British Columbia and soon after entering BC look for the turn off sign. The Parking lot and the shuttle bus is on the left hand side of the road.
The ridge is long. The difficulty is usually determined by the amount of snow on the route. A feature called the Sickle, half way along the ridge provides a bit of interesting climbing.
Route DescriptionFirst 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, a tough scree slope. 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.
Allow anywhere from 1.5 hours to 5 hours to the hut depending on the size of your group, your fitness level and your pack.
The route to the summit starts from the back of the hut. A rough trail follows the line of least resistance to the actual ridge. Following the cairns here is of great help. Getting too far left or right for that matter makes the route much more difficult. Once you gain the ridge break out the crampons. The next 2-3 hours will involve a steady mix of snow and rock. It is not that difficult but if the snow conditions deteriorate following the snow ridges on the right hand side will be more dangerious. A slip here would be your last.
Once you reach a feature called the "Sickle" it is approximately an hour to the summit. Return the same way. Or as I have been told. Some parties drop down to the top of the glacier and then out to Lake Louise via the "Furmann" ledges. I have not done this return route so I cannot recommend it one way or another. You would have to have a vehicule parked at both places to do this.
Essential GearThe hut provide most everything except your food. There are stoves, pots, pans, blankets and pads.
So all you need is:
Short piece of rope.
Trekking polls for the walk in.
Headlamp for early start.
Red TapeAbbots pass and Mount Victoria are in Banff National Park.
You will have to purchase a parks pass and a backcountry permit will be needed. You can purchase the back country pass at the Alpine Club of Canada Clubhouse in Canmore when you book your stay at the Abbot Pass Hut. Backcountry wilderness permits can also 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.
Be sure to reserve your spot at the Hut as it can fill up fast during peak climbing periods.
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. http://www.alpineclubofcanada.ca/
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.
Rates for Parks Canada as of July 1, 2005:
BACKCOUNTRY USE AND CAMPING
Wilderness Backcountry: $9/night
Wilderness Pass: $63/year
Reservation Fee: $12/group
• Adult $8.90
• Senior $7.65
• Youth $4.45
• Family/Group $17.80
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
Climbing Season-Weather conditionsThe 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. The overnight freezing temperatures will determain whether the conditions are right for a summit attempt.
Weather forecasts are available, on the web weather office or (403) 762-2088