American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Canadian Rockies, Mt. Babel, East Face; Mt. Louis, East Face

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2002

Mt. Babel, east face; Mt. Louis, east face. Kevin Thaw and I arrived in the Canadian Rockies on August 1 with two weeks set aside for an alpine climbing holiday. It seemed that the weather was less unsettled on the more southerly peaks in the foothills, so we drove up to Moraine Lake to have a look at the east face of Mt. Babel. The weather was good, so we bivied and left Moraine Lake around 7 a.m. It took about three hours to get to the first pitch of the climb, partly because we headed up the wrong gully toward the base. The face was dry but covered with an immense amount of loose rock. I was twice hit by rocks, one of which broke my baby toe. We simulclimbed the first half of the route and pitched out the second half. We reached the top in about eight and a half hours, having made an all-free ascent. The descent is long and complicated and was further slowed by my toe. Also, the guidebook almost led us astray by warning, “Don’t be tempted to peel off to the east too soon-you’ll end up climbing back up to the ridge line.” In fact, the descent never drops off to the east but remains on the spine of the north ridge until you reach a huge gully right before the Tower of Babel. We made it back to the car just as it became pitch black at around 10 p.m.

Next we headed to the east face of Mt. Louis, a 2,000-foot face that, as far as we could find, did not have any routes. We had hoped to tackle the clean headwall in the middle of the east face, but when we got there we found it to be much steeper and blanker than anticipated. Instead we chose a line running directly up its right edge. We soloed the first half of the climb, at up to 5.7, and simulclimbed the upper section, at about 5.9, with most of the 5.9 being found in the last 700 feet. The quality of the route is high, with many moderate pitches of clean face climbing and little loose rock. Total climbing time was about three and a half hours. We did find one piton halfway up and a few old pieces of tat low down, so are not certain we climbed a new route.

Mark Synnott, AAC

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.