Trad, Alpine, 1215 ft, 7 pitches, Grade III,
Avg: 3 from 8
> N America
> Banff NP
> Valley of the T…
> Tower of Babel
Parks Canada requires people to travel in groups of 4 or more on the Consolation Lakes trail due to active grizzly bear populations in the area.
There is no denying that the Tower of Babel is a striking feature, in a stunning alpine setting. The rock is generally of good quality and the solid quartzite lend to fun, juggy climbing throughout. The entire day is spent overlooking the picturesque Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks and the summit views are unparalleled.
That said, the rock is quite poor on some pitches and care should be taken to not drop loose rocks. A helmet is strongly recommended.
The route description is as follows:
P1, 5.6- Move up on good holds in a short, right-facing corner. Traverse left, out of the corner and onto easy ground in a more prominent right facing corner. Angle slightly left and up, then up through a crack to another broad ledge system and bolted belay, 110'.
P2, 5.7- Move left on the large ledge about 30' (marked by a small cairn) and up through blocky terrain. After 70' or so, a few moves left lead to a slabby wall with shallow cracks running vertically. Follow these cracks upwards and left, then traverse right to the bolted station below a small roof, 140'.
P3, 5.8- Move right and then, upwards on good holds. Three bolts provide the protection through this section, then lead to easy, 4th class terrain. An intermediate station can be built, or consider simul-climbing to the bolted station below a black groove/chimney at a comfortable stance, 250'.
P4, 5.7- Climb upwards through the black groove. Easy route-finding leads to a bolted station at another comfortable stance, 150'. Alternatively, the white corner to the left can also be climbed to the same point.
P5, 5.6- Move slightly right, then upwards from the belay following obvious weaknesses. Move left below a wide crack, pull through a small overhang to a forested ledge and bolted anchor, 100'.
P6, 5.0- Walk up and left on a trail, then scramble back right on an obvious ramp to a large ledge. A few more low 5th class moves back left will reach the final headwall, 300'.
P7, 5.8- From the leftmost point of the final belay ledge (above a square-cut boulder), move up through cracks, and through a slot to below a roof. Move right to get around the roof. A few moves back left get you into a steep, right-leaning corner system. Follow to the top, 190'.
Descent- Follow enormous cairns in a south-easterly direction. Climb through the steep wall at the shortest point (5.2). Take a photo at the stone living room set, then keep heading in the same direction. A trail to the SSW takes you to a small col. Head down the steep and loose descent gully on a trail-- which slowly improves-- back to the start of the horizontal ledge.
Approach- From the horizontal ledge, walk about 40m on a well-worn trail. The climb starts where further travel on the ledge would become more exposed. The last significant tree, indicates the start of the route.
Single rack .4-3, but double .75-2 could be appreciated. 10-14 long draws. Bring double ropes to reduce drag, or if you needed to retreat on stations. Bolted stations on all but the final two pitches.
Looking back at the belay from the start of the second pitch.
Following the second pitch.
Looking down at the base of the belay for our 6th pitch (5th pitch in route description; we didn't simulclimb previous 250 ft 5.8 pitch).
Start of the second pitch traverse on the McKay Route.
Looking down from the outstanding last pitch, very fun climbing in a beautiful position