Aylmer is part of the Palliser Range located in the Lake Minnewanka Valley adjacent to the Ghost River Valley. The summit is actually located in the Ghost River Wilderness area, but much of the mountain is located in Banff National Park
as well. Banff National Park is one of four connecting national parks in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. This is a mountaineer’s mountain in that it was officially named by the person who made the first ascent (1889), JJ McArthur, who was from Aylmer, Quebec. Mount Aylmer forms a pyramid when viewed from the east and rises above its immediate neighbors, catching considerably more snow. Its summit can be viewed to the east from downtown Banff on a clear day. As an objective, it sits relatively alone across from Mount Inglismaldie with the long (24 km) and narrow Lake Minnewanka (water of the spirits)
in the middle. Lake Minnewanka is no pond at 466’ deep. Despite its lengthy approach, Mount Aylmer is a mountain that does get climbed frequently. (My camera broke and I had to use a cheap video camera for the climb itself. So hopefully someone will add more photos soon.)
The only published route I am aware of is the scramble up the southwest slopes. I would be tempted to ski this route, but have no knowledge of it being done.
The Trans-Canada Highway dissects Banff National Park east to west as you come in from Calgary. Take the first Banff town exit and turn right (east) on Lake Minnewanka Road for 5.5 km to the Marina. You are almost guaranteed to see plenty of mountain sheep on this road and at the Marina.
You 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. We just had a grizzly attack and death in Canmore yesterday, June 5, 2005.
Therefore, you should always have bear spray on your person. We have had an increase in activity so far in 2005.
When To Climb
As with most scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I climbed Aylmer in October. There are no published backcountry ski routes on the mountain but I am tempted to put one up.
This is mountain worth camping for. Lake Minnewanka offers tons of good camping sites up and down the north shore. I have canoed up and down to several of these campsites. They all offer great shoreline camping. For Mount Aylmer, you will want to obtain a permit for campsite LM8.
You can go on line at Banff National Park
to pick your 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.
Mountain ConditionsBanff National Park’s website
has weather, wildlife reports, trail closures, etc. Outside of the parks web site, Canadian Avalanche Association
is also useful, particularly for winter travel.
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