Mount Willingdon is located in the wild eastern section of Banff National Park, the last expansive area of true wilderness within the park. This mountain is more about scenic views, wild animal encounters, or hopefully only viewing, and long approaches then quality climbing or classic mountaineering
Mount Willingdon is low on the list of Canadian Rockies 11,000 footers, depending on your perspective, either the 39th or 44th highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies; 44 th on the generally accepted list of 54 summits. The summit is just over the magic 11,000 ft. mark at 3373 metres (11,067 ft.).
View to Mt. Willingdon from high col
Banff National Park is located in the province of Alberta in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It is situated 128 km (80 miles) west of Calgary, Alberta. Vehicle access is by Trans Canada Highway (Highway #1) from Calgary.
The standard approach for Mount Willingdon is from the Mosquito Creek trail head. Follow the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93 North) 24 km north of the Lake Louise Junction (or 183 km south of the town of Jasper) to Mosquito Creek Campground, park in the lot beside the Mosquito Creek Hostel. Trail starts immediately north of the highway bridge, on the right hand (north) side of highway. Follow this trail along Mosquito Creek for 4 km, then angle left on game trails along the creek’s north fork, traversing through open forest and grassy slopes. Where creek bends west (about NTS UTM grid reference 477255) head north up steep grassy slopes.
Ultimately the goal is to reach Quartzite Col (about NTS UTM grid reference 476283), but it is tricky to spot from below. To reach Quartzite Col tend north through the boulder fields and keep an eye on your GPS.
From Quartzite Col, drop down steep snow and scree slopes to the Siffleur River. Once in the valley, easy terrain leads towards Clearwater Pass, where a well worn trail leads to Devon Lakes. Devon Lakes are an excellent bivy base camp and about 6 hours and 35 km from the highway. From the lakes, head to the South Ridge of an outlier west of Mt. Willingdon, which will lead to the West Ridge proper of Willingdon.
Climbers are permitted to bivouac on long routes or otherwise where necessary to safely complete a climb.
Some restrictions apply. A backcountry use permit is required, contact any Banff National Park visitor centre, where you may obtain the permit.
Expansive views, fabulous scenery and the wilderness atmosphere at Devon Lakes are themselves worth the long hike. Devon Lakes are in the random camping area of Banff National Park, so there are no facilities or designated camp sites. Be aware of wildlife and practice “Leave No Trace” ethics.
Route Description- West Ridge (Normal Route), Alpine I
Line of the first ascent by a topography survey team of the Geological Survey of Canada in 1919. From the Devon Lakes bivy head north to gain the obvious South Ridge of an outlier west of Mt. Willingdon.
Obvious South Ridge of West Outlier
At the outlier/Willingdon col, an interesting crown shaped pinnacle blocks access, but is only moderate scrambling up and over. The West Ridge proper of Willingdon is a simple scree hike until the summit block is reached. Here a 5 metre cliff, down-sloping and usually wet or icy, prevents easy access to the summit.
The wall is loose on the bottom, but has more solid consistency as you climb up. The wall is more solid, but steep, to climber’s left (north end). A very sketchy piece of old 6mm cord was in place in 2010, but wouldn’t trust it, at the north end.
Ascend wall (difficult scramble, 4 class climbing) to summit scree slope. Slog to top. A few rappel anchors are present above the summit cliff band, rappel is recommended. Return same route to camp.
Minimum climbing gear required. Long scree slog, two ski poles recommended, helmet, harness, short rope (12 metres) and rappel device for descent of summit cliff band.
If snowy or icy, mountaineering axe and crampons maybe required.
High altitude camping gear for bivy camp. Rain/snow storm shell, down jacket, waterproof climbing boots and good camp food.
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.
11,000ers of the Canadian Rockies