"A word on the spot is worth a cartload of recollections"
James Maggs, Southwold diarist 1797-1890

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Louise Falls

We set out this morning to explore Johnston's Canyon, off Highway 1A west of Banff. Johnston was a miner/prospector who explored the canyon in the 1890s. Nowadays it's fully geared for tourists with a walkway drilled into the limestone canyon wall, information boards about the history of the place and the local wildlife. You get the feeling, though, that there are vast areas of country all around, that are completely untouched and wild.

This impression of wildness was reinforced by a couple of articles in the local Canmore paper this morning, about local sightings in the last couple of days of a wolf pack hunting a moose, and of a cougar (named Doug, it seems).

Anyway, back to Johnston's Canyon. When we arrived at our destination, the upper falls, after 45 minutes walking we found the ice to be not great, so we backtracked to the car and drove north to Lake Louise instead.

There we found a frozen lake surrounded on three sides by mountains.
Our destination was Louise Falls, a 110m WI4/5, which you can just about make out in the right-hand background of the photo above, across the lake.
I'd been sluggish all morning and was initially a bit intimidated by the steep appearance of the climb, but as usual I woke up fully as soon as I started climbing.
The setting was stunning, the ice fairly good on my pitch. Nick had to contend with a lot of brittle and snowed-up ice on the second, very steep, crux pitch. It was the hardest pitch we've done here: 20m or so of near-vertical ice. The photo below doesn't really do it justice. Another brilliant day.

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