Sheol Mountain is not really a mountain, but rather the eastern extension of Haddo Peak, a popular alpine climb at Lake Louise. Sheol Mountain is located in Paradise Creek Valley directly across from the massive and intimidating north face of Mount Temple, one of the coveted 11,000’+ objectives in the Canadian Rockies. This is the Lake Louise portion of Banff National Park
, one of four connecting national parks in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Mount Temple is the only 11,000’+ Canadian Rocky Mountain that can be easily accessed via its west ridge. However, the climbs on the north face are quite extreme. No summit gives you a better view and study of these north face routes than Sheol.
The official name Sheol means “underworld of the dead” in Hebrew. This mountain does not really conjure up such notions however. I noticed no gargoyles, unique pinnacles, etc. It is a fairly uneventful climb, but decent outing, particularly if you want to study Temple. It was first ascended in 1903 by a topographical survey team.
The only published route is the moderate scramble up the south slopes to the ridge between Haddo Peak and Sheol. Sheol Mountain’s summit is actually 40’ lower than when you gain the ridge. The approach to Sheol Mountain is a commonly used trail (not overcrowded like many Lake Louise trails though) by hikers at Lake Louise to access Lake Annette and the “Giant Steps”. You will not find a better viewpoint for the extremely difficult Alpine V routes on Temple’s north face.
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 then take another left on Lake Moraine Road. Drive 2.3 km to the Paradise Valley trailhead on your right
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. Many times throughout the past few years this trail has had travel restrictions.
Normally the restriction is that hikers must be in groups no less than six. That would make getting in this “not so common” of a trail difficult. I advise checking with Parks Canada
before you plan this scramble.
When To Climb
As with most scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I climbed Sheol Mountain in June and enjoyed a fast and soft descent via remaining snow in the gullies. There are no published backcountry ski routes on the mountain, however, the Paradise Valley trail is a popular cross country route in the winter.
The closest camp site is at the end of Paradise Valley Trail at Banff National Park PA8, another 3.5 km west. 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.
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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