Mount St. Piran is the easiest scramble in Banff National Park
located 3000’ above Lake Louise. The trail to Mount St. Piran actually starts at the famed Chateau Lake Louise (hotel). St. Piran was named in 1894 after the Patron Saint of Cornwall. Edward Whymper, the first climber to summit the Matterhorn, bagged St. Piran and wrote that he rather enjoyed the views and recommended building a trail to its summit. In reality, St. Piran is just a hike, but the views are rewarding (Hector Lake, Bath Glacier, Mt. Lefroy, Mt.Temple, Mt. Niblock and Mt. Whyte to name a few). The biggest highlight was a golden eagle flying a meter above the slope six feet in front of me at 8000’.
The only published routes or routes of any consequence are various scrambles. I combined St. Piran with a day of sport climbing at Louise Falls.
The Trans-Canada Highway 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 to its end at the Lake Louise parking area.
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, therefore, you should always have bear spray on your person. We just had a grizzly fatality in Canmore, June, 2005. However, a portion of this trail is well traveled by tourists. I do advise checking with Parks Canada
for possible trail closures.
When To Climb
As with most scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I climbed Mount St. Piran in August. There are no published backcountry ski routes on the mountain, nor would it be conducive to ski.
The 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 campout at the Chateau itself.
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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