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Panorama Ridge & Tower of Babel

Summit Elevation (m): 2824
Trip Date: Saturday, June 30, 2007
Elevation Gain (m): 1450 
Round Trip Time (hr): 8
Total Trip Distance (km): 13 
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break something  
Difficulty Notes: No major difficulties if scrambling the Kane route in dry conditions. The access gully on the Tower of Babel is extremely loose. Plan to be the first up it and take care not to injure others with rockfall while you descend.
Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)
Map: Google Maps


On Saturday, June 30 2007, I joined Sonny, Kelly, Jess, Frank, Jason and Raf for a fun trip up Panorama Ridge near the Consolation Lakes in the Moraine Lake area of Lake Louise in Banff National Park. The original idea to scramble Panorama Ridge was from Sonny and he was most interested in the traverse of the ridge as documented by Dow Williams on his web site. I was mostly only interested in bagging another ‘Kane peak’ so I decided right away that I would try to get both the ridge and the Tower of Babel while Sonny would do his traverse. Kelly was going to descend on her own and wait for us.

Panorama Ridge and the Tower of Babel Route Map

As the trip evolved, more people became interested until we had a nice group going. This made the relatively boring scramble a lot more pleasant. Don’t get me wrong. The scenery is hard to beat on this trip! It’s just that the actually scrambling is pretty much non-existent.

Panorama Ridge

I think Sonny had the right idea by going straight up the ridge instead of curling around to climbers right. It sounded like him and Kelly had some interesting scrambling once they started traversing over the ridge to the summit.

Views over the lakes towards Bident, Quadra and Fay are already good from the lower ascent slopes.

You don’t even actually reach the highest point on the ridge unless you do the entire traverse – but you do accomplish the Kane route. You will also get wet feet if you decide to do this scramble while the water is high.

Panorama from Panorama Ridge. There – I said it! 🙂 L to R, Bell, Bident, Quadra, Fay, Babel, Tuzo, Eiffel, Temple and others.
Looking back along Panorama Ridge towards Mount Temple (L) and Hector (R). Note the small tarn at lower right.

Because of the lateness of the day and the fact that so many people would have to wait for him, Sonny decided against doing the traverse. I’m sure he’ll be back to do it though. Again – fabulous views for a small amount of effort but not the most exciting scrambling I’ve ever done!

Amazing view into the Consolation Lakes valley on descent with Bident, Quadra, Fay and Babel looming above.
Eiffel and Temple rise above the tiny looking Tower of Babel.

The company is what made this trip fun. For better scrambling I headed down before anyone else and managed to bag Tower of Babel in the same day – a highly recommended two peak day to make things a bit more interesting.

Panorama Ridge
Frank tries to dance across the outlet of Consolation Lakes. It didn't work.
Frank tries to dance across the outlet of Consolation Lakes. It didn't work.
The Consolation Lakes are spectacular. Bell, Bident and Quadra rise above from L to R.
The Consolation Lakes are spectacular. Bell, Bident and Quadra rise above from L to R.
Starting up the rubble slope with Tower of Babel at left and Temple in the distance.
Starting up the rubble slope with Tower of Babel at left and Temple in the distance.
Views over the lakes towards Bident, Quadra and Fay are already good from the lower ascent slopes.
Views over the lakes towards Bident, Quadra and Fay are already good from the lower ascent slopes.
The real grunt begins, thankfully the views are good! We're already higher than the Tower of Babel just left of center.
The real grunt begins, thankfully the views are good! We're already higher than the Tower of Babel just left of center.
Mount Fay rises dramatically over Consolation Lakes.
Mount Fay rises dramatically over Consolation Lakes.
Looking over our approach valley and Tower of Babel towards Eiffel Peak.
Looking over our approach valley and Tower of Babel towards Eiffel Peak.
JW pushes up the scree slope with Fay in the background.
JW pushes up the scree slope with Fay in the background.
Nearing the ridge proper now, looking towards Consolation Pass.
Nearing the ridge proper now, looking towards Consolation Pass.
On the ridge looking at JW approaching the summit above.
On the ridge looking at JW approaching the summit above.
Incredible views of Bident (L) and Quadra (R).
Incredible views of Bident (L) and Quadra (R).
Figures on the summit of Panorama Ridge.
Figures on the summit of Panorama Ridge.
Figures on the summit of Panorama Ridge.
Figures on the summit of Panorama Ridge.
Mount Babel.
Mount Babel.
Looking back along Panorama Ridge towards Mount Temple (L) and Hector (R). Note the small tarn at lower right.
Looking back along Panorama Ridge towards Mount Temple (L) and Hector (R). Note the small tarn at lower right.
Summit panorama looking south and west includes Bident, Quadra, Fay, Tuzo. Deltaform, Neptuak and Hungabee (L to R).
Summit panorama looking south and west includes Bident, Quadra, Fay, Tuzo. Deltaform, Neptuak and Hungabee (L to R).
Looking east down the TCH on the left towards Copper, Pilot and Brett. Storm and Bell just right of center.
Looking east down the TCH on the left towards Copper, Pilot and Brett. Storm and Bell just right of center.
Tower of Babel is a tiny bump at bottom right with Eiffel, Deltaform and Hungabee in the distance.
Tower of Babel is a tiny bump at bottom right with Eiffel, Deltaform and Hungabee in the distance.
Perren, Allen and Tuzo are part of the ten peaks in the Valley of Ten Peaks.
Perren, Allen and Tuzo are part of the ten peaks in the Valley of Ten Peaks.
Mount Fay
Mount Fay
Summit panorama.
Summit panorama.
JW chills with a sandwich at the summit.
JW chills with a sandwich at the summit.
Great views towards Mount Temple.
Great views towards Mount Temple.
Quadra Mountain
Quadra Mountain
Bident Mountain
Bident Mountain
Mount Hector is visible from a lot of peaks.
Mount Hector is visible from a lot of peaks.
Two of the largest peaks near Skoki - Douglas on the left and St. Bride on the right.
Two of the largest peaks near Skoki - Douglas on the left and St. Bride on the right.
Pilot Mountain catches some dramatic lighting.
Pilot Mountain catches some dramatic lighting.
Helena Ridge.
Helena Ridge.
Pulsatilla Mountain (R).
Pulsatilla Mountain (R).
Raf at the summit.
Raf at the summit.
Amazing view into the Consolation Lakes valley on descent.
Amazing view into the Consolation Lakes valley on descent.
Flowers and Mount Temple.
Flowers and Mount Temple.
Tower of Babel (L) and Mount Temple (R).
Tower of Babel (L) and Mount Temple (R).
Looking back up Panorama Ridge.
Looking back up Panorama Ridge.
Looking back up Panorama Ridge.
Looking back up Panorama Ridge.

Tower of Babel

After scrambling up Panorama Ridge I decided that to make the day more interesting I should also bag Tower of Babel. Since this scramble starts from the Consolation Lakes trail it makes perfect sense to combine it with a trip up Panorama Ridge. If you use this idea, I would do Panorama Ridge first, because if you do it the other way around you may be sick of scree before you make it up Panorama!

Two things about the Tower of Babel scramble surprised me. First was how solid the climb up the gully was if you stick to climbers left right under the towering cliffs above you. This is also the safest strategy because it’s highly unlikely that rock fall would come straight down the cliff without bouncing off towards the middle or the right side of the gully. The second surprising thing was that on a July long weekend I was the only scrambler on the whole route at 3 o’clock in the afternoon on a gorgeous day.

Chillin’ on the big comfy couch with Mount Temple as a backdrop. Not bad.

Personally I feel that the rating on Babel should be closer to ‘moderate’ than ‘easy’. Sure, it’s a very short and fast trip but it’s also relatively dangerous in the gully. Thank goodness I was the only one in there! If anyone was coming down while I went up it would have been interesting. Near the top of the gully it’s pretty steep and could cause some more sensitive hiking folks a bit of stress.

I was just up there! Panorama Ridge lies to the east.
My favorite view from the Tower of Babel looking over Consolation Lakes with Babel, Quadra and Bident on the right and Bell and Panorama Ridge on the left.

Make sure you take the gully right under the cliffs, I did see 2 parties off-route on a gully to the right (climber’s) of the proper one. I loved the couch and chair at the summit and kind of wished I had a couple of hours to kill up there! The view is excellent. I climbed up in 41 minutes and back down in 22. I managed to catch Sonny and Kelly on the Consolation Lakes trail just as they were coming out from Panorama Ridge.

A recommended scramble, especially if you combine it with another such as Panorama Ridge for a two peak day.

Tower of Babel
Tower of Babel as seen from just off the Consolation Lakes trail.
Tower of Babel as seen from just off the Consolation Lakes trail.
You want to move quickly up this gully! Lots of rock fall potential. Personally I feel this is 'moderate' terrain, not 'easy'.
You want to move quickly up this gully! Lots of rock fall potential. Personally I feel this is 'moderate' terrain, not 'easy'.
Once up the gully, I headed back north to the main summit area.
Once up the gully, I headed back north to the main summit area.
Gorgeous view over Larch Valley towards Hungabee and Eiffel with Sentinel Pass to the right.
Gorgeous view over Larch Valley towards Hungabee and Eiffel with Sentinel Pass to the right.
Chillin' on the big comfy couch!
Chillin' on the big comfy couch!
Another angle on the summit couch with Mount Temple in the bg.
Another angle on the summit couch with Mount Temple in the bg.
I was just up there! Panorama Ridge lies to the east.
I was just up there! Panorama Ridge lies to the east.
Moraine Lake and the Valley of Ten Peaks. From R to L, Neptuak, Deltaform, Tuzo, Allen, Perren, Bowlen and Little.
Moraine Lake and the Valley of Ten Peaks. From R to L, Neptuak, Deltaform, Tuzo, Allen, Perren, Bowlen and Little.
Mount Babel looms high over the tower on the right, Bident in the distance.
Mount Babel looms high over the tower on the right, Bident in the distance.
My favorite view from the Tower of Babel looking over Consolation Lakes with Babel, Quadra and Bident on the right and Bell and Panorama Ridge on the left.
My favorite view from the Tower of Babel looking over Consolation Lakes with Babel, Quadra and Bident on the right and Bell and Panorama Ridge on the left.
The obvious route up the avy path on Panorama Ridge.
The obvious route up the avy path on Panorama Ridge.
Another view over Moraine Lake which has a Peyto Lake look to it here!
Another view over Moraine Lake which has a Peyto Lake look to it here!
Peering straight down at the Moraine Lake Lodge.
Peering straight down at the Moraine Lake Lodge.
Telephoto of Eiffel Peak.
Telephoto of Eiffel Peak.
Deltaform is a big, scary 11,000er.
Deltaform is a big, scary 11,000er.
Allen is another large peak in the group of 10 - Perren to its left.
Allen is another large peak in the group of 10 - Perren to its left.
Mount Little doesn't look so little from this angle!
Mount Little doesn't look so little from this angle!
Mount Bident has always impressed me with it's hanging glacier and distinctive lines.
Mount Bident has always impressed me with it's hanging glacier and distinctive lines.
Mount St. Bride in Skoki has only been summitted a few times.
Mount St. Bride in Skoki has only been summitted a few times.
Looking back at the pleasant summit as I descend back to the scary descent gully.
Looking back at the pleasant summit as I descend back to the scary descent gully.
One last look over Consolation Lakes before dropping into the gully (behind me here).
One last look over Consolation Lakes before dropping into the gully (behind me here).
Back down this loose, colorful thing!
Back down this loose, colorful thing!
Easy scree fan at the base of the gully.
Easy scree fan at the base of the gully.
One last look up at the tower.
One last look up at the tower.

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