Mount Victoria is a spectacularly beautiful mountain. This long and tall mountain has two primary summits, the main summit, the south summit, is described in a separate page.
Considering the lower, more northern summit, a separate summit may not be technically correct as there is little prominence between these summits; but there is approximately 1000 metres of isolation between the two summits.
Mount Victoria from Upper Victoria Glacier
Locals consider both worthy climbs and both summits are listed separately in the list of the 54 Canadian Rockies summits over 11,000 feet (3353 metres). Reaching 3388 metres (11,115 ft.) Mt. Victoria’s North Summit is 41 on the generally accepted list of 54 summits exceeding 11,000 feet in the Canadian Rockies.
Named in 1886 for Queen Victoria of England, Queen Victoria reined the British Empire from 1837 to 1901. The main summit of Mt. Victoria was reach in 1897, but the North Summit was not climbed until 1900 by James Outram, William Outram, Joseph Scattergood, C. Clarke and H. Zurfluh via the North East Ridge.
Drive to the tourist town of Lake Louise, 188 km west of Calgary along the Trans-Canada Highway, then proceed to the iconic tourist destination of Chateau Lake Louise. Expect tourists; but when you witness the grand vistas and the opulence of this historic hotel, you will understand the crowds. Park in the Lake Louise parking lot and then follow the popular hiking trail, “Plains of the Six Glaciers” to the tea house.
From the tea house follow the trail to the glacier lookout, but about 150 metres from the tea house, on climber’s right, on the edge of the boulder/tree slope, an obvious trail leads to scree fields below the Upper Victoria Glacier.
Red Tape / Camping and Bivouacs
Great local views.
The North Summit is easily climbed in a day from the Lake Louise parking lot. Old bivy sites and walls exist along the glaciers edge, but Parks Canada generally does not issue backcountry permits for bivouacs for this route anymore. No permit is required to park or climb.
When to Climb
Typical Canadian Rockies situation with July and August providing the best conditions for high elevation climbing. Often September and October have stable and dry weather, but conditions can change dramatically. Fall climbing does provide colder temperatures for snow climbing, but with less snow for climbing and bridging of crevasses.
Three climbing routes have been documented on Mount Victoria’s North Summit. Documented routes include:
- North Summit, North-East Ridge (Normal Route), Alpine II
Line of the first ascent in August 1900. From Plain of the Six Glaciers tea house, gain the Upper Victoria Glacier. Lower glacier has many large crevasses, be very aware. About half of the lower glacier can be avoided by traversing low slopes of Collier Peak, on a bench above the glacier, but this bench is exposed to increased rockfall hazard.
Once on the upper section of the Upper Victoria Glacier, head to the steep and tall col between North Victoria and Collier Peak. Cross the bergschrund, can be a challenge some summers, and continue up steep, but ledgy rocky. The col provides excellent views of the North Face of Victoria North and west into Yoho National Park.
Looking down to Col
From the col continue up the North East Ridge to summit on either snow or ice, depending on conditions. A short rock step at about 2/3 thirds height can be climbed directly (5.3) or passed on climber's right, maybe icy late in the summer season on this bypass slope. Moderate snow/ice ridge to summit.
- North Summit, North Face, Alpine III
First Ascent in May 1969 by local legends U. Kallen, C. Locke, F. Roth and M. Toft. From Lake O'Hara road (Yoho National Park) approach Watch Tower Creek to cliffs below north glacier. Climb easiest line through the broken glacier. Be prepared for some interesting climbing getting around seracs and crevasses. A tricky, if not difficult, approach.
Once on a bench below the steepest North Face section, climb the right hand side to avoid a serac bulge, then onto the summit on snow or ice.
- Traverse of Mt. Victoria, Alpine IV
First traverse G. W. Culver, E. Feuz Jr. and R. Aemmer (also local legends, but last century) in 1909. A long day out in the mountains but worth every minute. Be prepared to deal with lots of loose rock on easy 5th class climbing. Often done as a north to south traverse, since this leaves you at the Abbot Pass Hut towards the end of the day, but it can be traversed in either direction.
Typically climb the North Ridge of Mt. Victoria North, then traverse to South Summit on low 5 class rock with sections of mixed terrain. Once on South Summit, descend to Abbot Pass on South East Ridge.
Looking South to Main Summit from North Summit
Sean Dougherty book, Selected Alpine Climbs in the Canadian Rockies
, provides excellent route and approach information.
Selected Alpine Climbs
Bill Corbett’s book, The 11,000ers of the Canadian Rockies
, provides a comprehensive climber’s guide and history to the 54 11,000-foot peaks in the Canadian Rockies.
11,000'ers of the Canadian Rockies