|Banff National Park
Joanne and I at Lake Louise from the front steps o...
Banff National Park is Canada's first and most famous National Park. People come from all over the world to sightsee, hike, camp, raft, ski, scramble and of course climb year round.
The alpine climbing is clearly the highlight of the park. Many world famous peaks and tough ascents are located within the boundaries of the park. There are countless summits for the aspiring alpinist to attempt, some easy scrambles, some 5.9-M4-A4 unrepeated horror shows. Many of North America's finest alpinists and climbers cut their teeth climbing Banff's peaks.
The ice climbing in the park is also world famous, with a lifetime of ice available almost year round, from road-side cragging to 2000' WI6 routes. The typical ice season lasts from Mid-November into May and June (depending on how desperate for ice you are).
Rock climbers have a lot to choose from as well. Though the rock is fairly chossy (some have described it as the worst rock in North America that still gets climbed), the routes are many from small sport crags to huge alpine rock routes. The best quality rock is found in the quartzite of Back of the Lake at Lake Louise, whereas big, aesthetic routes can be found in palaces like Castle Mountain, Mt. Louis and the Tower of Babel.
Banff National Park is located along the Trans-Canada highway running from Calgary, AB to Vancouver, BC. The easiest way to get in is to fly into Calgary International Airport and rent a vehicle; the drive is about 70 miles to the park boundary. Bus service is also avialble from Calgary and places beyond.
Banff is a heavily used National Park, with the oddity of containing a busy town. Park Fees can add up if you're in the are for more than a week, so consider buying an annual pass.
Where to Stay
ACC Club House
The Alpine Club of Canada's Club House is in Canmore, a half-hour away from Banff. It's not a hut, it's the club house, so there's easy road access. There are fridges and a kitchen, showers, sauna, mountaineering library, and they server beer (especially Big Rock Trad Ale). Check their website for all the details on reciprocal agreements with other mountaineering clubs. It was worth it for me (Peter Spindloe) to become a member just to stay there.
The Banff Centre for Mountain Culture
Yes, this is where the Banff Festival of Mountain Films comes from. It's actually more like a campus that has year round events, like the festival, as well as performing arts classes, business leadership seminars, etc. They have dormitories that they rent out like hotel rooms when they aren't full. I was in the area on a road trip and my partner got pretty sick so we got a room there for a few days for him to recover, rather than tenting it. I'm double checking on whether they still do this, but it wouldn't hurt to call if you're in the area.
There are a lot of places to camp (click the heading for the list), but the two most economical are the Banff Overflow lot and the Lake Louise Overflow lot as they don't have electrical hookups and the associated cost.
Browse More Classics in Banff National Park
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Banff National Park:
Featured Route For Banff National Park
WI3 PG13 International
: ... : Cascade Mountain Ice
Approach: 10 minutesClimb: 2 - 4 hoursDescent: 45 - 60 minutes Car-to-Car: 3 - 5 hoursSun: little to none in winterAn excellent route with fun rambly pitches topped off with 2-3 long & steep excellent pitches right at the top. If it wasn't for the HUGE avalanche hazard this route suffers from it would be crowded all the time. Check the hazard before heading up! Climbing it at night to lower the objective hazard is not uncommon. Otherwise a very early start or a cloudy day is recomm...[more] Browse More Classics in International
Before going into the back country it is best to c...
Mount Lefroy out of Lake Louise.
View of a half of The NF. of MT. Temple