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Banff National Park

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Banff National Park  

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Location: 51.175, -115.5899 View Map  Incorrect?
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Submitted By: ihategrigris on Mar 21, 2007






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Mount Lefroy out of Lake Louise.


Banff National Park is Canada's first and most famous National Park. People come from all over the world to sightsee, hike, camp, raft, ski, scramble and of course climb year round.

The alpine climbing is clearly the highlight of the park. Many world famous peaks and tough ascents are located within the boundaries of the park. There are countless summits for the aspiring alpinist to attempt, some easy scrambles, some 5.9-M4-A4 unrepeated horror shows. Many of North America's finest alpinists and climbers cut their teeth climbing Banff's peaks.

The ice climbing in the park is also world famous, with a lifetime of ice available almost year round, from road-side cragging to 2000' WI6 routes. The typical ice season lasts from Mid-November into May and June (depending on how desperate for ice you are).

Rock climbers have a lot to choose from as well. Though the rock is fairly chossy (some have described it as the worst rock in North America that still gets climbed), the routes are many from small sport crags to huge alpine rock routes. The best quality rock is found in the quartzite of Back of the Lake at Lake Louise, whereas big, aesthetic routes can be found in palaces like Castle Mountain, Mt. Louis and the Tower of Babel.

Getting There 

Banff National Park is located along the Trans-Canada highway running from Calgary, AB to Vancouver, BC. The easiest way to get in is to fly into Calgary International Airport and rent a vehicle; the drive is about 70 miles to the park boundary. Bus service is also avialble from Calgary and places beyond.

Park Fees 

Banff is a heavily used National Park, with the oddity of containing a busy town. Park Fees can add up if you're in the are for more than a week, so consider buying an annual pass.

Where to Stay 

ACC Club House
The Alpine Club of Canada's Club House is in Canmore, a half-hour away from Banff. It's not a hut, it's the club house, so there's easy road access. There are fridges and a kitchen, showers, sauna, mountaineering library, and they server beer (especially Big Rock Trad Ale). Check their website for all the details on reciprocal agreements with other mountaineering clubs. It was worth it for me (Peter Spindloe) to become a member just to stay there.

The Banff Centre for Mountain Culture
Yes, this is where the Banff Festival of Mountain Films comes from. It's actually more like a campus that has year round events, like the festival, as well as performing arts classes, business leadership seminars, etc. They have dormitories that they rent out like hotel rooms when they aren't full. I was in the area on a road trip and my partner got pretty sick so we got a room there for a few days for him to recover, rather than tenting it. I'm double checking on whether they still do this, but it wouldn't hurt to call if you're in the area.

There are a lot of places to camp (click the heading for the list), but the two most economical are the Banff Overflow lot and the Lake Louise Overflow lot as they don't have electrical hookups and the associated cost.

Climbing Season

Weather station 1.3 miles from here

70 Total Routes

['4 Stars',16],['3 Stars',31],['2 Stars',10],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Banff National Park:
The Professor Falls   WI4     Ice, 6 pitches, 900'   Mt. Rundle : Professor Falls Area
Centre Ice Bulge Direct   WI3     Ice, Alpine, 5 pitches, 1000'   Valley of the Ten Peaks : Mount Fay
Bourgeau Left-Hand   WI5     Ice, Alpine, 4 pitches, 600'   Mt. Bourgeau
Bourgeau Right-Hand   WI4     Trad, Ice, Alpine, 6 pitches, 1000'   Mt. Bourgeau
Half 'n'Half   M7     Sport, Mixed, 60'   Haffner Creek
Shagadelic   M6+     Sport, Mixed, 50'   Haffner Creek
Nemesis   WI6     Ice, Alpine, 4 pitches, 525'   Stanley Headwall
Louise Falls   WI4-5     Ice, 3 pitches, 350'   Lake Louise : Lake Louise Ice
Cascade Falls   WI3 PG13     Ice, 5 pitches, 1000'   Cascade Mountain : Cascade Mountain Ice
Rogans Gully   WI3+     Ice   Cascade Mountain : Cascade Mountain Ice
Brewer Buttress   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, Alpine, 13 pitches   Castle Mountain
East Ridge   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Mod. Snow PG13     Snow, Alpine, 10 pitches, 5000'   Valley of the Ten Peaks : Mt. Temple
Aftonroe   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, 8 pitches   Mt. Cory : Guides Rock
French Reality   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c WI6     Trad, Ice, Alpine, 4 pitches, 150'   Stanley Headwall
South Face   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, Alpine, 4 pitches, 350'   Sentinel Pass : Grand Sentinel
Gooseberry   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 7 pitches   Tunnel Mountain
Public Enemy   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 80'   The Back of The Lake : Outhouse Wall
Turtle Mountain   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 80'   The Back of The Lake : Outhouse Wall
Ballista   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b A0     Sport, Aid, 8 pitches, 650'   Tunnel Mountain
Wicked Gravity   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 88'   The Back of The Lake : Outhouse Wall
Browse More Classics in Banff National Park

Featured Route For Banff National Park
Suffer Machine

Suffer Machine WI5+ M7-8  North America : Canada : ... : Stanley Headwall
Suffer Machine is an excellent Stanley Headwall route! The mixed climbing is on high quality rock and is followed up by steep, sustained ice.The crux is the roof on the first pitch. Start at the base of a blocky column of rock below and to the right of the hanging dagger. Climb about 15m to a stance below the roof, where you can clip two bolts, and get a decent rest. Step out and get good tool placements above the roof and clip the first bolt. It's strenuous, because your feet are way under...[more]   Browse More Classics in International

Photos of Banff National Park Slideshow Add Photo
Moraine Lake and Valley of the Ten Peaks.
Moraine Lake and Valley of the Ten Peaks.
View of a half of The NF. of MT. Temple
View of a half of The NF. of MT. Temple
Joanne and I at Lake Louise from the front steps o...
Joanne and I at Lake Louise from the front steps o...
Before going into the back country it is best to c...
Before going into the back country it is best to c...

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