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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.