Rock Climbing in Yoho and Lake Louise

"Climb on!"

Christian stretches out on Railway Avenue's Never the Twain, 11a
Christian stretches out on Railway Avenue's Never the Twain, 11a
Photo: Nicola Pelletier

Two words, two hands lightly dusted with chalk, a light tug on a nearby handhold and all other thoughts fade away. The collection of gear clipped to my harness clinks and rattles as I shift my weight, grunting through a difficult crux section before clipping in to the anchor.

"Secure!"

Only then do I allow myself to remember my surroundings. 30m above my partner on belay, I manage to seat myself on a small ledge and fix my gaze across the cool blue waters of Lake Louise. Sitting here in the warm sun, the scent of pine wafting along on a light breeze, I could easily let the day drift away without moving an inch.

If it weren't for the dozens of routes that I've yet to climb, that is.

Climbing at the Back of Lake Louise

The quartzite cliff faces that hug the back end of Lake Louise, a 20 minute drive east from Field into Banff National Park, have been the playground of a dedicated band of local climbers and visiting rock rats since early development began decades ago. An incredible variety of sport climbing and trad gear routes have been placed, with literally hundreds of climbs to choose from: beginner routes rated 5.7 and 5.8 to finger-burning 5.13+ crimpers. Multi-pitch options abound here for rock climbers whose fear of heights has long since passed.

The Canadian Rockies have a seemingly endless supply of climbing crags, with new areas being discovered each year.

Railway Avenue in Field

The Field Valley is home to a crag of its own, relatively obscure despite being within walking distance of town. Railway Avenue is a quartzite rockface with six bolted routes to be found, tucked alongside the railway tracks at the base of Mount Stephen. The wall can be accessed by walking 45 minutes east out of town and 100m west of the Cool Spring ice climb. These climbs are not for the faint of heart: each is rated 11a (6c / VII+) or higher.

Bouldering in Yoho National Park

Cathedral / Spiral Tunnels Boulders

Climbers who favour the difficult moves and technical skills demanded by bouldering will be in heaven within Yoho National Park. The Cathedral Mountain boulder field is host to dozens of boulders referenced in climbing guides as well as a healthy selection of undiscovered problems. The aptly-named First Stone is located across from the Spiral Tunnels Lookout between Field and Lake Louise, and with a handful of boulders nestled conveniently nearby it makes for an accessible spot to initiate a bouldering session.

Takakkaw Falls Boulders

The scree slopes surrounding the base of Takakkaw Falls are dotted with climbable boulders. The best collection of these giants can be found by crossing the river at the Takakkaw Falls parking lot and following the paved path to itís end. From here hike across the border field found to your left. In a few minutes you will find yourself surrounded by 10 to 15 high quality Rocky Mountain boulders. The problems here range from V0 to 'damn near impossible.'

Climbing Gear Rentals

Avoid lugging all of your climbing gear by renting when you arrive. Gear up at:

Lake Louise

Wilson Mountain Sports
Climbing shoes, harnesses, helmets, guide books, and more
403-522-3636