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Lake Louise: Back of the Lake

Banff National Park

Banff + Yoho, Alberta

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Lake Louise: Back of the Lake

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  • Dogs are allowed, though keep them on a leash. - Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • The new normal, fire smog drifting through Lake Louise. - Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • Taking the shore path to the crag. - Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • Big mountains hidden by smoke. - Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • Classic quartzite of Lake Louise.- Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • Sitting at the base of Wicked Gravity. - Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • Busy weekend at the crag. - Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • The outhouse wall is a popular area for beginners. There are plenty of solid sport climbs for those who are less certain about leading. A man was killed here in 2018 by falling trees. While it was the first time this has happened, the risk is something to- Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • Corners Inquest (5.4) is a classic beginner route that is ideal for those learning trad climbing. There are plenty of great chances to learn tricky placements. You can break it up into two pitches or one long 70 meter climb. It is very steep for a 5.4. - Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • Working a section in Duckland. - Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • The area gets swamped out pretty often. - Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • Looking up toward Mount Huber. - Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • Psych-up chats. - Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • Climbing at Back of the Lake.- Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • You can follow along the edge of the crag to get to new spots if need be, though the trail is rugged. - Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • Smoggy evening sky.- Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • Going for that hold. - Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • Looking out over the lake. - Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • Going up a route near Liquid Sky Wall. - Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
  • Snow is here lasts well into June, so come prepared. - Lake Louise: Back of the Lake
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Flat approach. Many classic routes. Solid rock. Incredible vistas while you climb.
Cons: 
A lot of tourists. Very busy.
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Region:
Banff + Yoho, AL
Access: 
Hike-in
Climbing:
Trad climbing, Sport climbing
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Site characteristics: Drinking water: 
Unfrozen water
Recommended Equipment:
Helmets, Harness / rope / anchors, Trad rack
Class / Rating: 
5.4 - 5.14
Highest point: 
1,820.00 m (5,971.13 ft)
Distance: 
8.21 km (5.10 mi)
Alpine climbing NCCS rating: 
Grade II
Number of pitches: 
153
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
National or state forest pass
Permit required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Primary aspect: 
East facing
Total Distance: 
0.65 km (0.40 mi)
Total elevation gain: 
70.00 m (229.66 ft)
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,750.00 m (5,741.47 ft)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

Back of the Lake is Banff National Park's premier rock climbing destination. Ultra classic routes are spread across a Quartzite Band on the opposite end of Lake Louise. It is a quick walk to get there, and the crag offers something for everyone. Get here early though, because the parking lot fills up quickly. If you arrive after 9 a.m., just save yourself the hassle and park at the overflow lot outside of town.

Bow Valley Sport and Banff Rock are the best guidebooks for the area. Select Climbs of Western Canada is acceptable, though it is pretty out of date by now. While many folks leave their trad racks at home, it's worth bringing it along as it gets very busy and often it's a good way to get climbing while you wait for your favorite sport line to clear. 

If you haven't climbed on quartzite, it's a lot of crimps and rounded horizontal cracks. Get ready for plenty of steep pumpy moves, even in the 5.6 range. The crag is notoriously sandbagged compared to the other crags in the area. Especially beginner routes tend to feel harder. 

There are a whole host of classic routes. Main attractions would be Air Voyage and Wicked Gravity (5.11a), but further on you'll find Chocolate Bunnies from Hell (5.11b), DEW Line (5.11c), Jason Lives (5.13a) and Bloodsport (5.11b), Mister Rogers (5.11b), Duck of Death (5.11b) and Liquid Sky (5.11c). Sonnie Trotter's incredible route, The Path (5.14), continues on past Wicked Gravity and is worth just looking at. 

The crag is set up starting from the closest to the hotel as follows; 

  • Louise Falls: Often wet, but there are a few beginner mixed routes for those looking to learn trad climbing. Normally quiet. 
  • Hillside Wall: 5.8 - 5.10c. Great for low-intermediate climbers. 
  • Trailside: Good cracks. Prepare to be asked, "Isn't that dangerous?" several times. Mostly 5.10s and 5.11s.
  • Outhouse Wall: Huge mix. The upper section has the easy routes with intermediates and the ultra classic Wicked Gravity. Very busy.
  • Air Voyage Wall: Lots of super steep routes as you head toward the Amphitheatre. 
  • Amphitheatre: A couple of moderates and a few fun 5.8 trade climbs. 
  • Liquid Sky: Superb steep cracks.
  • Pond Hill: Mostly hard to access routes that are vegetated and meandering. A few descent ones, but getting to them is very annoying due to the water. 
  • Blob Rock: Superb routes that are normally super busy, and there are lots of viewers from the trail. 
  • Duckland: A couple of solid moderate to hard routes.
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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(23 within a 30 mile radius)

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