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Banff Beta/Guidebook Question

Eric Morley · · Calgary, AB · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 0

I've written down my opinions on some of the guidebooks for the Canadian Rockies.


  • Sport Climbs in the Canadian Rockies = My preferred sport climbing guidebook.  It covers a large range with crags in Kananaskis, near Canmore/Banff and at Lake Louise.  It seems to be more comprehensive than Bow Valley Sport but has simpler topos and less information about individual climbs.  It also includes topos to some multipitch sport climbs and some single pitch trad venues which I think is useful.    
  • Bow Valley Sport = The version I have has fewer crags than Sport Climbs in the Canadian Rockies and does not include multipitch sport climbs or very many singlepitch trad venues.  The guidebook does have plenty of information about each climb and very detailed photos which some people may prefer.
Multipitch Rock:
  • Banff Rock = This guidebook covers all rock climbing in Banff National Park, anywhere from cragging to multipitch climbs to semi-alpine routes. There is a fair amount of overlap with the Sport Climbs in the Canadian Rockies/Bow Valley Sport (e.g. the sport climbing at Lake Louise is covered in all three) and some of the alpine climbing books (e.g. routes on Castle Mountain, Mt. Louis, the Finger).  That being said I think it is a very useful guidebook if you want to climb on the multipitch trad climbs in the area that aren't covered in the alpine climbing guides (e.g. Guide's Rock, Norquay Slabs) 
  • Bow Valley Rock = This guidebook covered primarily multipitch rock climbs around Canmore but outside of Banff National Park.  Unfortunately, it is out of print but you can still find a ton of topos from it online by just searching the guidebook name and a cliff usually (  There is good information for venues like East End of Rundle and Ha Ling.  
  • Yamnuska Rock = This guide only covers the multipitch rock climbs on Yamnuska.  It is very useful if you want to spend a lot of time climbing on Yam but may be an expensive purchase if you're just visiting the area and want to climb at several different venues.  Summitpost has descriptions but no topos for a lot of the climbs on Yam.
Alpine Climbing / Peakbagging:
  • Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies = A classic book for peakbagging throughout the Canadian Rockies.  In my opinion, it's definitely the book to get if you wanna do 3rd to 4th class scrambles.
  • Rockies Central = An extremely comprehensive guidebook that attempts to chronicle the routes on peaks over 2600m from Kananaskis to Lake Louise.  A beautiful book with great photos and a ton of classic and obscure routes.  It does cover some of the rock climbing in the area but only if the climb tops a peak over 2600m (e.g. Mt. Louis, Castle Mountain).  
  • The 11,000ers of the Canadian Rockies = As the name suggests this book describes routes up the 58 peaks over 11,000 feet in the Canadian Rockies.  A good book if you're interested in mountaineering.  Most of the climbs take multiple days and are mainly glacier slogs.  
  • Selected Alpine Climbs in the Canadian Rockies = I believe it's out of print but this book covered all sorts of routes from easy rock ridges to huge north faces all over the Rockies.  A great book to get psyched but the information is outdated/sandbagged.  
Eric Morley · · Calgary, AB · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 0

As far as Chet's question goes regarding favourite 3rd-4th class scrambles I've included a few below.

  • Mt. Engadine W Ridge = A fun ridge scramble with great views of the Spray Lakes and Mt. Assiniboine.  
  • The Fortress SW Ridge = An easy scree slog but I really like the approach up past Chester Lake.
  • Mt. Burstall East Ridge = A shorter scramble but the views of Mt. Sir Douglas and the surrounding glaciers are stunning.
  • Mt. Edith Traverse = The traverse of the three summits of Mt. Edith has lots of interesting hands-on scrambling and you get good views of the impressive Mt. Louis
  • Mt. Niblock / Mt. Whyte = Although you have to navigate a crowded trail to Lake Agnes, the scrambling up these two peaks is plenty of fun and you get nice views of the peaks in the Lake Louise Group.
  • Mt. Temple SW Slopes = Extremely popular but it's cool to hike up such a prominent 11,000er. 

Regarding which crags would be doable in early May this year, I'd say that Echo Canyon, Bataan, Barrier Mountain, and Wasootch Slabs are your best bets provided the weather is ok.  Some walls in the canyons (e.g. Hemingway Wall in Grotto Canyon and some stuff at Grassi Lakes) could be warm enough but the weather would have to be really nice.  Unfortunately, I think Lake Louise will still be too snowy.  Also, I imagine seeping could be a problem at a lot of venues with the amount of snow we have this year.    
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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