Mt Edith and Mt Louis

Canada | Banff | Banff Rock


Mount Edith (2554 m) and Mount Louis (2682 m) are two rocky peaks formed in a long uplift of vertically bedded limestone. They have been sculpted by glacial action into impressive summits with large rock faces on many sides. The isolated spire of Mount Louis is one of the most spectacular peaks in the Canadian Rockies with no easy route to its summit and a complex rappel descent – see photograph opposite. Mount Edith has three major summits, all of which can be reached via easy scrambling routes on the west side but with major cliff faces on their eastern sides. At the northern end of the north summit a large face overlooks Gargoyle Valley with Mount Louis on the opposite side. Both peaks are visible from a number of locations near the Banff town site. The photograph below is taken from the Trans-Canada Highway driving west just before the east Banff exit. The impressive spire of Mount Louis is on the left with the Diamond Face, the upper section of the Kain Route, and the complete line of Homage to the Spider all visible. The blocky peak on the right is Mount Fifi which is rarely visited and is not included in this guidebook. Climbing on the two peaks is somewhat alpine in character due to their remoteness, the length of the climbs, and the time-consuming descents. Many of the climbs on Mount Edith, however, do not end at one of the summits and descent is made by rappel once the main difficulties are over. This is the case for all four routes at the north end, the Keller-Ehman route on the central summit, and the new 6-pitch sport route to its right. On Mount Louis all climbs end at the summit which must be reached before the rappel descent route can be utilized. However, this descent route is now completely fixed for single rope rappels and has lost much of its seriousness. Overall, climbs on the two peaks are now more like long rock climbs than mountaineering routes and this trend is likely to continue as modern routes are established. Nonetheless, the approaches take from 2 to 3 hours and 15 hour climbing days (car to car) are common. Lightning is obviously a concern on such exposed mountain peaks and it is advisable to check the weather forecast. Previously, most of the routes had little fixed gear to facilitate retreat but many of the belays on the Mount Louis climbs have now been bolted making it more of an option (with two ropes). Pitons are normally not required but a headlamp is essential – many climbing days on these peaks end in darkness long before the road is reached. Cell phone reception is generally good and several spectacular helicopter rescues have been performed from Mt Louis. There are good campsites in the upper meadows of Gargoyle Valley which give good access to both peaks. Water is limited to snow-melt, however, and strict precautions regarding food storage are advised.

  • < 5.9
  • 10a - 10d
  • 11a - 11d
  • 12a - 12d
  • 13a >
  • Mt Edith
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  • East Face of Central Peak
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  • North End
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  • Mt Louis - SE Face
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  • Mt Louis - NE Face
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