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Mount Hector

Banff + Yoho, Alberta

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Mount Hector

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  • Scrambling up the gully in the early morning.- Mount Hector
  • Ascending the moraine, little Hector in the distance. - Mount Hector
  • Moving up the moraine toward the glacier.- Mount Hector
  • Mount Hector in the distance.- Mount Hector
  • Mount Hector off in the distance. Just reaching the toe of the glacier. - Mount Hector
  • Bootpacking up the last steeper section. In spring this section is almost always solid, so ski crampons are required. Make sure your whole party has them; otherwise, you'll be bootpacking. - Mount Hector
  • Final section of the bootpack with Hector Lake and Wapta in the background. - Mount Hector
  • Climbing up the summit pyramid just above the first step, the crux and hardest section. - Mount Hector
  • Good bootpacking to the final scramble.- Mount Hector
  • The upper step, the second crux of the route. It isn't especially hard scrambling, just a bit awkward and very exposed. - Mount Hector
  • Open terrain on Mount Hector.- Mount Hector
  • Goofin' on the way down Hector. A great view of the headwall on a clear day. - Mount Hector
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Beautiful long descent.
Cons: 
Significant avalanche risk late in the day. Very challenging to navigate in whiteout. Crevasse rescue training required.
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Region:
Banff + Yoho, AL
Access: 
Vehicle
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
No
Site characteristics: Drinking water: 
Snowmelt
Recommended Equipment:
Harness / rope / anchors, Ice axe / crampons
Highest point: 
3,412.00 m (11,194.23 ft)
Max slope angle: 
15-30 degrees
One-way approach distance: 
7.14 km (4.44 mi)
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
National or state forest pass
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer
Primary aspect: 
North facing
Route Characteristics: Terrain type(s): 
Bowls
Shuttle required: 
No
Total Distance: 
13.83 km (8.59 mi)
Total elevation gain: 
1,635.00 m (5,364.17 ft)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,866.00 m (6,122.05 ft)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Vertical descent: 
1,635.00 m (5,364.17 ft)
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

This classic ski route is exploding in popularity, and it's easy to see why. It's a thoroughly enjoyable ski mountaineering objective with easy road access and spectacular summit. It is imperative to move quickly on this route because warming causes the significant overhead hazard risk to rise dramatically. Most parties aim to complete this route and be back to the car within five to seven hours.

Mount Hector's main route requires a ski mountaineering ascent. It moves through a lot of complex avalanche terrain, across glaciers, and through many terrain traps. Most people will do this route in spring, aiming to be off the mountain before noon.  This route should be attempted only by very fit parties with experience in glacier travel. It is a route that requires constant movement. This route can and has been snowshoed, but this is more often over the course of two days because it's tough for snowshoes to move at a pace necessary to avoid avalanche terrain. 

The route begins at an easy to miss turnoff for the Mount Hector drainage that lies between Andromache and Hector. The skin track leads up along the trail for a kilometer before steepening considerably. A bootpack is usually required to reach the valley above.

Following the valley, keep to the south Hector side, gaining elevation until you reach a series of moraines. From here, pick a route that suits the snow conditions best. 

Past this is a good spot to rope up as you step onto the glacier. Keep your ski crampons ready because they will be required soon. The route steepens as you progress. Eventually ski crampons become necessary because the terrain and hard spring conditions make for tricky skinning. Many people bootpack this section instead. 

Once you gain the base of the summit block you'll see a slight gully just beneath the upper col between the main peak and the subpeak that pushes through the first band. Ascend up the snowfield and then traverse westward, up a couple of rock steps onto the summit. 

Well done, you've made it! The downclimb is tricky, and as of yet there are no solid options for rappels. Descend back to your skis and rip down the valley. The run is beautiful, and while the snow is rarely superb, it's great fun.

As you proceed back down to the valley and into the gully, be very cautious. Neighboring Mount Andromache has a bad habit of releasing early morning avalanches that wipe out the gulley. Scrambling down the rock bands above the gulley to the west is often the safer option. 

PACK LIST

  • Avalanche Recue Kit
  • Crevasse Rescue Kit
  • Rope
  • Helmet, Harness, biners
  • Ice ax, crampons
  • Speed Touring clothing 
  • Headlamp
  • Snacks and Water
  • Map, compass, GPS

Backcountry Safety

Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.

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Updates, Tips + Comments

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(19 within a 30 mile radius)

Adventure Community

Adventure Community

Who Wants To Do It
2 Members
Who's Done It
1 Members
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124 Adventures Explored
48 Adventures Published

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