The Mitre is located at the head of the Lefroy Glacier between the extended ridge of Mount Aberdeen and Mount Lefroy in Banff National Park
, one of four connecting national parks located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. The Mitre was officially named such in 1893 as it was thought to resemble a Bishop’s mitre (pointed headdress worn by a bishop during church ceremonies). It is one of the most aesthetic mountains in the Lake Louise group. The Mitre was first ascended by Kaufmann and Pollinger in 1901.
The only published route up the Mitre is an Alpine II, 5.5 route that utilizes the Paradise Valley approach option. There is another approach option from Lake Louise on the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail.
Although the first approach is considered a safer route, the Paradise Valley Trail has been subject to closure and/or restriction due to bear activity for the past several years. The Lake Louise approach does not typically suffer from the same circumstances. The most immediate view from the summit of the Mitre is the slow movement of massive ice being pushed off of Mount Lefroy’s eastern face.
Plain of Six Glaciers refers to the valley that drains six glaciers into Lake Louise's crystal blue waters (Aberdeen, Upper-Lower Lefroy, Upper-Lower Victoria and Popes Peak). The valley runs east-west and is surrounded by peaks on three sides: Mount Aberdeen, The Mitre and Mount Lefroy to the south, Popes Peak and Mount Whyte
to the north and Mount Victoria to the west. The Mitre rises above the southern end of the lower Mount Lefroy Glacier that joins the Lower Victoria Glacier to the north. These glaciers form part of your approach.
The Trans-Canada 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 5 km 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. This approach trail is rarely restricted as it leads to the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House. However, I advise checking with Parks Canada
for any area and/or trail closures
When to Climb
As with most rock alpine climbs in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I climbed The Mitre in July and the route was in condition. There are no published backcountry ski routes on this mountain, nor would it be conducive to ski to the summit.
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 camp out 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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