ApproachThis is a 4000’+/- ascent day not counting for lost elevation from one summit to the next.
Perhaps the most difficulty this day will by finding your way through the crowds at the Chateau. Follow Lake Louise counter clock wise to the Lake Agnes Tea House trail which splits off to the right. Ascend the trail to the tea house for 3.4 km. (good views of Mts. Aberdeen, Haddo and their ascent glacier to the south). Once to the tea house, continue along the right shore line of Lake Agnes aiming for the col between Niblock and Whyte.
It is a relatively easy ascent to Niblock involving some hands on scrambling, but not much. Stay to the right to avoid rock fall from several steep rock bands (a fatality has occurred in this area)
and crest out to the right of the pass adjacent to the headwall of Mount Niblock. Stay to the left on the south ridge and head for the summit. Good views include several close ups of a small glacier, but deep ice, on Popes Peak.
Then proceed south over the pass to the cruxes of Whyte. The first couple of scramble moves directly on the ridge are relatively tame. Then you end up on the right side of the ridge at a 15 meter climb (5.7) that you want a rope for if you plan on down climbing later (bad rock). There is a rappel station at the top.
I was solo therefore this helped define my descent option down the south slopes of Whyte. There might be an easier way to access or stay on the north ridge of Whyte. I did not take the time to find out. Once on top of this crux, everything else seems like a cakewalk, but still deserves caution. Traverse on ledges (photo above) to the right of a steep rock wall to the first broad gully that takes you back to the ridge again. Proceed northwest to the summit cairn. Mount Whyte’s summit gives up better views then Niblock via the Death Trap, Abbot Hut, Glacier Peak, Temple, Victoria, Lefroy, Collier, Mitre, etc.
I then chose to scramble down the south slopes of Whyte to the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail. However, four French Canadians decided to do the same. So I booked on down to stay ahead of them, as the rock fall from above brought on “Apocalypse Now” flashbacks. This route involves tremendous route finding and good judgment and is more dangerous in my opinion, than going back and down climbing to the pass between Whyte and Niblock.
But it does make for a true traverse of a great section of the Lake Louise area. Scramble down a short distance south of the summit toward a gully between Mount Whyte and the next peak southwest. It starts out steep, but eases into varying snow and scree slopes down to grassy rock bands which can be difficult to downclimb. There will be a lot of route finding in this area and you might want to rappel in a spot or two. I was solo and without a rope and found my way, no worries. Once you reach the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail, you have a 5 km hike back east to the parking area.
Helmet, Bear Spray, Gaiters, a Short Rope and enough Gear to Make a Rappel Station could come in Handy on either Descent