Summit Elevation (m): 3084
Elevation Gain (m): 1400
Round Trip Time (hr): 8
Total Trip Distance (km): 8.5
Quick ‘n Easy Rating: Class 3 – You fall you break something
Difficulty Notes: Moderate scrambling with some route finding and bushwhacking to treeline.
Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)
Map: Google Maps
On Tuesday, August 09 2011, Wietse and I scrambled to the summit of Mount Noyes in Banff National Park. This scramble is uncanny in it’s similarities to Mount Weed, the mountain just to the south of Noyes. As awesome as the views from Weed are, I would have to say that Mount Noyes is a more enjoyable scramble, or it certainly was for me. The main difference between Weed and Noyes is that Weed is pretty straightforward route-finding and a fairly typical Rockies approach. The route finding on Noyes isn’t nearly as straightforward and there are some hidden gems along the way. I had more fun on the Noyes approach than I can remember on any recent approach over the past couple of years.
We started from the overflow camping area on hwy 93 (roughly 10km north of Bow Summit) and went about 15 minutes along Silverhorn Creek before the terrain forced us up to climber’s left. I can’t possibly describe our route accurately, but suffice it to say that if you don’t have a good route finding ‘nose’, you will do your most difficult scrambling in the trees!
We were very fortunate to discover a great little break in the upper cliff band which led us over the first ridge. I marked our exit on my GPS because there’s no way we’d find it back otherwise! The thickest bushwhacking of the day brought us to the beautiful upper hanging valley, leading towards an obvious cliff / headwall with a waterfall plunging down the middle. We walked to the cliffs and turned up to climber’s left where we saw our first cairn (at the top). Sticking to the bottom (right of) the upper cliffs, we worked our way up and to climbers left before a route to the SW ridge of Noyes became obvious. We took advantage of a semi-permanent snow field to reach the SW ridge.
The face of the upper mountain looked very intimidating on the approach, but like many other Rockies peaks, it’s bark was certainly much worse than it’s bite! The moderate chimney felt more difficult than it should have due to snow and ice and wet rock. If there is any snow on the upper face you should consider bringing crampons. That would have made this section much easier. We were following fresh tracks to this point and thought for sure someone had beat us to the summit for 2011 – this was not the case according to the register and I think they turned around at the crux.
After the crux it was a steep and loose grunt to the summit cairn. The views were outstanding – too many peaks and valleys and ice fields to mention!
After 40 minutes on the summit we casually descended, using my GPS to find the break in the cliff band and finding the way down a bit more bushy than we remembered it from the morning. Funny how that happens sometimes.
Noyes is a top scramble for me. Just a wonderful day in a beautiful area. Wildflowers were everywhere including but not limited to Camas, Saxifrage, Aster, Paintbrush, Arnica, Avens, River Beauty, Blue Bells and Columbine. I can’t think of a single reason why this peak shouldn’t be on every Alberta Rockies scrambler’s list.