Peak Climbed: Mount Louis

Peak Height: 8,799'

Route: Kain Route

Difficulty: 5.8

Location: Banff National Park, Canada

Trailhead: Fireside TH

Mileage & Gain: 15 mi & 6,000 RT

Date Climbed: August 25, 2017

Mount Louis is pehaps the most iconic of Banff National Park's limestone masses, a true climbers peak with a rich history. All routes to the top are technical and quite involved. The Kain Route, which was established in 1916 on the first ascent of Mount Louis, is the easiest option but certainly no gimmie. It requires significant routefinding and covers a lot of fifth class territory. Those who are well versed in moving efficiently with a rope through varying terrain will not find this route overly time consuming. Those who are not may find themselves bivying like many others before them. Best case, expect a long day. I was quite intimidated by what I'd read about this route beforehand.

Dom and I botched the straightforward approach very badly, blowing by a trail turnoff below Mount Norquay. This added an extra 4 miles and 1,200 feet of gain - not the ideal start when you're racing the clock on a long route. After the missed turnoff the trail became a little overgrown and we were quickly soaked through as the vegetation was dripping with water from heavy storms the day before. Once we realized our mistake and raced back to the juntion wet, frozen and demoralized, it was a hard decision whether to still give Louis a go. I thought it was hopeless. Thankfully Dom was a little more optimistic. Even though I could literally barely walk on the way out (due to an angry knee after 2 weeks of hitting it hard in Canada) we made it back to the car before sunset.

To be honest, I didn't find the climb itself to be all that cool and I was a little disappointed. I'm not a huge fan of this type of limestone and except for the last two pitches up the final headwall, the climbing is mostly forgettable. The experience of being high on mighty Mount Louis was however rather sublime. And the canyoneering-esque rappel route was kind of nifty too.

Home | Peak List | Canyon List | Trip Reports | Colorado | Utah | Wyoming | Montana | Arizona | New York | South Dakota | International