Trad climbing
Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Grade III
Elevation Gain
1,070.00 m (3,510.50 ft)
13.68 km (8.50 mi)
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The grand Sentinel Spire is one of the most impressive formations of rock in the Rockies. Towering just over 100 meters, this thin needle looks impossibly daunting from Sentinel Pass on Mount Temple. But if you venture away from the crowds, this incredible feature has two phenomenal rock routes.

The Grand Sentinel has two routes on it. While it is hard to access, Cardia Arete is a modern sport classic with bolted anchors. For more details about the route, refer to Banff Rock, a guidebook by Chris Perry. To access the climb, park at the Moraine Lake lot near Lake Louise. In recent years, it has become basically impossible to get a spot past 8:30 a.m., so arrive early to beat the crowds (and the heat).

From the parking lot, follow the signs up the trail to Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass. The trail winds up along wide switchbacks to a junction. Again, follow the trail uphill toward Sentinel Pass. This takes you through the spectacular meadows and larch groves of Larch Valley. Breaking into the alpine, you pass under Mount Temple and up its flanks along the steep trail that gains the col. From here, you get your first look at the spire. It's a real beauty. Descend along the main trail to Paradise Valley for about 60 meters before taking a high route along the scree to just above the spire.

The spire has two routes on it. The main route is a trad route (5.8) of marvellous quality. A single rack with doubles of 1.5 to 2.5 inches is recommended. You'll also want the blue cam on your left side if you lead the third pitch. Consult Chris Perry's book for more detailed beta. Cardiac Arete is a 5.10d sport climb on the eastern side of the spire. It's a phenomenally high-quality route with the bolts pretty closely spaced. It's another climb well worth attempting.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National or state forest pass

Open Year-round


Open from

June 11 to October 17


Spectacular. Iconic. Good quality rock.


Long approach.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

6,102.36 ft (1,860.00 m)

Highest point

8,530.18 ft (2,600.00 m)


Vault toilet
Geologically significant
Big vistas
Big Game Watching



Typically multi-day


Permit required


Primary aspect

West facing

Class / Rating


Drinking water



Nearby Lodging + Camping


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