Climbing Conditions

Bugaboos and Lake Louise alpine conditions

Bugaboos and Lake Louise area

Climbing Conditions

From August 22-29 the TRU Canadian Mountain and Ski guide program Apprentice Alpine Guide exam visited a number of locations in the Bugaboos and the Lake Louise area. Below is a summary of the conditions encountered. Please note that some of this information is now out of date.

Bugaboos (August 22 - 25)

We encountered dry rock conditions on the Marmolata Traverse, Kain route on Bugaboo Spire, Crescent Traverse (start via Ears Between), W ridge of Pigeon Spire and the Snowpatch Route. While most glacier travel was relatively easy for this time of year, several sagging crevasse bridges are becoming more evident (Upper Vowell glacier). We encountered poor overnight freezing recovery, but luckily minimal smoke or bugs. We used the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col via it's right-hand snow couloir, though these conditions were changing daily with the continuing warm temps.

As the season progresses, melting out ice features are becoming a much greater hazard. Both rocks melting out of snow and ice features as well as recently uncovered moraines pose a rockfall hazard. The moraines below the Crescent Towers come to mind, with large shifting boulders as one ascends/descends. One of our rope teams had a close call when a large boulder melted out from the glacier surface due to day-time heating, narrowly missing those involved. This incident, low on the Bugaboo Glacier (near where the Bugaboo Glacier meets Son of Snowpatch) has previously been the site of several boulder-related rescues. The very edge of the toe of the Bugaboo Glacier is a natural funnel for these rocks. With continued glacial recession, there is now a rock spur uncovered on the climbers L side, avoiding the glacial creek and associated rockfall hazard. Minimizing our time spent in these places is a prudent idea.

Lake Louise area (August 28 - 29)

We did 4 different routes in this area and encountered generally good conditions with rockfall from melting out snow/ice being a main concern.

Mt Collier via the upper Victoria glacier:

We found the 3 main routes up the glacier to be in good conditions with generally supportive snow. The upper 2 routes are faster but prone to rockfall. Crossing the bergschrund was straightforward but it's advised to cross to the right of a snow filled gully that is spitting rocks. On the way down from the Collier - N. Victoria col we removed a rappel anchor from a suspect boulder and built a new one on solid rock.

Unnamed peak (3153m) via the E ridge:

We descended back down the E ridge after going up and used the existing rappel anchors to descend the steep steps. We avoided going down the glacier between Unnamed and Popes peak due to natural rockfall occurring there.

Mt Victoria south summit via Abbot pass:

We met lots of hikers going up to Abbot pass and were happy to see many wearing helmets. It's also definitely recommended to have solid boots for this hike. Snow coverage was still good over the Sickle, with 1 small crevasse noted in the saddle. We avoided the Huber approach to Victoria because of a picture we received of a nasty looking bergschrund.

Lookout Buttress on Castle mountain:

We had a lot of fun climbing this quality rock route. It's recently had a couple bolts added to the 2nd last pitch, so it is no longer runout. We found that bring at least one #4 camalot was necessary for a solid anchor above the crux pitch. Boots are recommended for the ledge that traverses off from the top of the route - it is exposed, hard packed mud in certain places. It's also important to note that the route photo in 'Banff Rock' is not correct.

Enjoy the last bit of summer!

Christian Schlumpf
Apprentice Rock Guide
CAA level 1

Maarten van Haeren
Apprentice Rock Guide
CAA level 1

On The Map

These observations and opinions are those of the person who submitted them. The ACMG and its members take no responsibility for errors, omissions, or lapses in continuity. Conditions differ greatly over time and space due to the variable nature of mountain weather and terrain. Application of this information provides no guarantee of increased safety. Do not use the Mountain Conditions Report as the sole factor in planning trips or making decisions in the field.