Redoubt Mountain is a 5 Star scramble in the scenic Skoki area located behind the Lake Louise Ski Resort in Banff National Park
, one of four connecting national parks making up the central Canadian Rockies. Redoubt is part of the Slate Mountain Range, and along with Ptarmigan Mountain and Fossil Mountain
, hem in the stunning Ptarmigan Lake (photo). The range is of course named after the slate like rock prevalent on its mountains. Redoubt Mountain was named by Arthur Wheeler in 1908 because he observed that it resembled a “redoubt”, which is defined as a military term meaning “stronghold or temporary fortification”. Considering the circuitous approach, including significant elevation loss and regain, it takes to reach its summit, Redoubt Mountain is aptly named.
Redoubt is well defended on approach from the west by sheer walls and really resembles a battleship once you gain a view of it from the east (photo). It was first ascended in 1906 by a topographical survey team. Redoubt Mountain in Banff National Park should not be confused with Redoubt Peak in Jasper National Park.
The only published route up Redoubt Mountain is the difficult rated scramble in the “Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies” guide book published by Alan Kane. I rate it on the easy side of difficult relative to other difficult scrambles in the book. Due to the elevation loss and regain it is a 4750’ ascent day from the car. However, many scramblers make the ascent from one of several backcountry campsites in the area which make for a shorter day. There are no other published routes I am familiar with and Mount Redoubt is not conducive to a winter ascent.
The Trans-Canada dissects Banff National Park east to west as you come in from Calgary. Travel to the Lake Louise exit and turn right towards the Lake Louise Ski area and drive 1.6kms and take another right onto the Temple Lodge access road. Proceed another kilometer and turn right into the Fish Creek Trailhead parking area on the right before the gate to the Temple Fire Road. You definitely want to take your bike or skis for the 3.8kms climb up Temple Fire Road.
Some people hitch a ride with Lake Louise Ski Resort employees who drive the road periodically both winter and summer. The bike ride climbs 1100’+/- past horse stables, ski lifts etc. until you reach a bridge and small storage building on the left. No bikes are allowed beyond this point and it is well signed regarding this fact. The Skoki trail starts just slightly up the road from the bridge.
You will be required to purchase a national park pass as you enter Banff National Park coming from the east on the Trans-Canada. 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. Parks Canada headquarters are located in Lake Louise 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. The lower slopes on approach are active female grizzly territory, however, this trail is rarely if ever closed. I do advise checking with Parks Canada
for any area and/or trail closures.
When to Climb
As with most climbs in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I climbed Redoubt Mountain in August and found the route completely free of snow despite the fact there is a small amount of glacier left in the northwest bowl.
There are four excellent back country camp sites in and around the Redoubt Mountain area that can be used during the summer months
: Hidden Lake Sk5, Baker Lake Sk11, Red Deer Lakes Sk19 and Merlin Meadows Sk18. For summer or winter there is also the Skoki Lodge
option, but it is relatively expensive. It is a backcountry lodge located through Deception Pass.
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. You cannot camp outside of the marked specific camping areas unless you are also in possession of a specific horse grazing permit.
The Banff National Park website
has weather, wildlife reports, trail closures, etc. Outside of the parks web site, Canadian Avalanche Association is also useful, particularly for winter travel. Canadian Alpine Accident Reports
is also extremely useful.