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Elevation: 8,194 ft 2,498 m
GPS: 51.21545, -115.68002
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Shared By: Hans Bauck on Jul 31, 2015 · Updates
Admins: Dave Rone, Tom Jones, Richard Rose

Description Suggest change

Mount Louis is an iconic limestone spire with a rich climbing history, and there is no easy route to its summit.

The first ascent of Mount Louis in 1916 by Conrad Kain and Albert MacCarthy was a landmark achievement. Climbers today who struggle to complete the Kain route before darkness befalls them will likely not be comforted that Kain and MacCarthy did the first ascent in just four hours, using hobnailed boots, hemp ropes, and of course no gear as it had not been invented yet. To descend they down-climbed the route.

The list of famous names who have done first ascents on Mount Louis is extensive. Others beside Kain include Walter Perren, Hans Gmoser, Galen Rowell, Tim Auger, Layton Kor, Brian Greenwood, Sean Dougherty, Steve Demaio, Raphael Slawinski, and most recently Sonnie Trotter and Tommy Caldwell.

Though there are many routes on Mount Louis, most of the climbing activity is concentrated on three routes in particular: the Kain route, the Gmoser route, and Homage to the Spider.

Climbers should not underestimate the length of time required, as the number of bivy sites on the upper part of the mountain can attest to.

There and Back Again Suggest change


From Banff, drive about 6km west on the Trans-Canada highway and take the Highway 1A exit. Immediately after the exit a road branches right to the Fireside parking area.

From the parking area, follow the trail across the creek. After about 10 minutes a junction is reached. The left fork climbs up a hill and is signed for Cory Pass. Straight ahead is signed for Edith pass. Take the Edith pass trail. 

After ~1 hour you reach a junction in the trail with another sign. The arrow for Edith Pass is scratched off- no matter, follow the Cory Pass trail here (the far side of Cory Pass from the parking lot).

Follow the trail, which climbs gently through forest, past the south and centre peaks of Mount Edith. Eventually the forest will open up and a short descent leads to scree slopes below the north peak of Mount Edith and Mount Louis. The time for the approach is about 2 hours for the Gmoser route and the Kain route, and perhaps 2.5 hours for Homage to the Spider.

The Gmoser route climbs the face visible from the trail while the Kain route approximately climbs the right skyline before joining the upper pitches of the Gmoser route. Homage to the Spider is located around the right side of Mount Louis.


The descent consists of ten single rappels from bolted anchors and is on the north side of the peak.

From the summit cross locate a bolted rappel anchor at the top of a low angle gully. Make five 30 metre rappels down the gully (or three double rappels), to where it steepens.

Walk up an easy ramp to locate the next rappel anchor. This ramp is climber's left of the gully. Note that a common mistake is to try to climb an earlier ramp. The correct ramp is short, easy looking, and is after the fifth single rappel.

From the top of the ramp, make a 25 metre rappel then a 30 metre rappel (or one double rappel) to a ledge. Walk 5 metres to locate the next station on the wall.

Make a 30 metre rappel to the next anchor in a small alcove/bowl.

Two more single rappels (or one double) leads to easy ground. From here, a steep trail leads down to the base of Mount Louis near the beginning of the Gmoser route.

8 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Mount Louis

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
The Kain Route
Trad, Alpine
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
The Gmoser Route
Trad, Alpine 15 pitches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Homage to the Spider
Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
The Kain Route
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad, Alpine
The Gmoser Route
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad, Alpine 15 pitches
Homage to the Spider
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad, Alpine 6 pitches
More Classic Climbs in Mount Louis »

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