Louise Falls is probably the easiest climb to get to in this part of the Rockies. It is located at the edge of Lake Louise, just a few kilometers walk around the lake from the parking lots at Chateau Louise, the huge and ugly fancy hotel at the near end of the lake. Because of the easy approach and the lack of avalanche danger (except on the optional walk-off), it is also one of the most popular climbs in the area.
On our first visit, we only climbed the first two pitches of Louise Falls (3 pitches, WI4) as the WI4 pillar out of the cave was dripping badly. Eric got thoroughly wet belaying in the cave before rapping down.
After that, we waited for quite a while to get on a nice smear to the left, as one party was finishing it, and another party was already queued up for it. This line, called "Lunar Eclipse", had never been known to form; the first ascent had been done just a few days earlier. It was a fun, thin and technical smear up a cliff band with small trees. At the time, it was also known as "Webster's Smear" and felt like WI4 with a few balancy moves near the top. It is one short (10 meters) and one long (45 meters) pitch to a snow anchor in a small alcove at the top (could be done in one pitch but the nice protected belay on the treed ledge 10m above the ground makes it more convenient). A fun climb!
We drove back to Canmore, and made it just in time (5PM) for Lucie to go to a 2 hour Yoga session!
We came back on December 6. Lucie had been nursing her knee for several days, after sustaining an injury from ice fall on Carlsberg Column (Nov. 23). This was our first attempt at climbing a multi-pitch line again since then. We figured the easy approach and relatively short climb would be a nice opportunity to test her knee.
A large portion of the hanging pillar on the right had fallen a few days before, causing minor injuries and sudden bowel release to a couple of climbers below it, but the left-hand pillar looked quite good. We climbed it in two long pitches this time. The bottom pitch was very wet. We belayed below and off to the left of the pillar this time, as there were more ominous looking ice formations hanging above the cave. The pillar was sustained but fun; felt like WI4+ to us. It snowed really hard during the entire climb. By the time we reached the top, there were 5 cm of new snow on the ground. We traversed right and descended the snow slopes back to the base. Some of those slopes were heavily loaded (thigh deep) with spindrift over depth hoar... caution advised, or rap the route instead.
We were off the climb by noon (and nobody else was around!). The ski area at Louise had been hosting the World Cup for the last 10 days. We spent the afternoon there, and got to watch the women's downhill. You can really appreciate the insane speed when you watch them take a jump. The noise from the aerodynamic drag is just incredible!
Lake Louise Climbs, AB
|The classic "Louise Falls" (WI4), on November 14.|
|Eric leading the first pitch.|
|Placing a screw on the second pitch.|
|"Webster's Smear" (WI4), a line that never formed before (in climber's memory anyway).|
|Eric starting up the second pitch, moving delicately on thin ice.|
|Higher on the pitch.|
|Looking back at the Chateau and the ski area from the top of the climb.|
|Louise Falls on December 6.|
|Approaching the pillar.|
|Placing a screw on the pillar pitch (note the broken pillar just right of Eric).|
|Mmmh! Hot tea!|
|At the World Cup.|
|The finish line.|
|Racer catching some air.|
|Proud member of the legendary Royal Canadian Mounted Police.|