We rolled out of bed at 2am and parked by the Million Dollar Bathrooms at the trailhead of Lake Louise. Before long we were geared up and on the trail by 3am. The first section around the Lake was really uneventful, well paved and a very clear trail. We hit the tea house at 4:50am and took a short break.
Here the trail description said “cross the scree and take the well worn but unsigned path to the right”Â we definitely missed this trail and kept going almost to the viewpoint! We finally realized our error and backtracked to the proper trail that got us to the glacier by 7am. There were already a few parties gearing up when we started and they took off before us leading the way.
Jamie in front of Mt. Victoria
Sean and Leigh Ann working up the trail
On the glacier lookin back towards Lake Louise
Another party starts out before us
The glacier travel was easy and efficient, Jamie took the lead and did a great job negotiating the crevasses and crossing the snow bridges. She commented later that the only non-native was leading the way! When we hit the bergshrund the other parties ahead of us were stopped and seemed to be evaluating their choices which were simple, go on or go home!
Sean and Leigh Ann on the glacier
Sean and Leigh Ann on the glacier
Our fearless leader
Sean and Leigh Ann with Lake Louise in the background
Looking at the bergschrund and our route to the col
One group elected to go home, one elected to go forward and we carried on up the snow slope. Crossing the ‘schrund was easy enough and then we hit some steep solid snow. There were already some good steps kicked in it and we worked our way up at a reasonable pace. By now the sun had come out and was shining directly onto the sun, the warmth was nice but the effect on the snow was decidedly not nice.
Sean and Leigh Ann
Working up the snow slope
Further up the slope we came to a 4th/5th class rocky step section and again, Jamie led the way. She did a stellar job negotiating the rock in crampons and working over the sketchy icy section to safe snow. I followed her lead and then Sean and Leigh Ann both came up after. Once we were passed the rock band it was easy going to hit the Victoria-Collier col at roughly 10am. Here the route was clear and obvious, but also obvious was the effect of the sun on the snow. Things were getting mushy and unstable and in fact the group ahead of us had already turned around and high-tailed it out of there.
Looking over the col
Clear route to the summit
We took some pictures and enjoyed the moment before heading back down the snow to the rocky step. Back at the step we took our time down climbing and then back down the ‘schrund to the glacier proper. From here it was short work to cruise across the glacier with only a few long legs getting sucked into crevasses as the sun weakened the snow-bridges further.
Jon with Lake Louise in the background
We geared down at 13:30 once we were off the glacier and then fought our way through the throngs of touristas on the tea-house trail. Fortunately our clicking poles and heavy boots worked better than a bell on the Calgary bike paths and people seemed to move out of the way for us. By 15:20 we were back at the trailhead for a 12hr round trip day.
Jon and Jamie, off the glacier now
Jon and Jamie
It’s a shame we didn’t summit but it was an excellent peak to attempt and a good warm up for all. For Leigh Ann it was actually her first introduction to glacier travel and proper mountaineering; she did a great job too.
26.6km (16 mi) round trip to the col
1,432m (4700 ft) elevation gain
12 hrs round trip