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East Ridge of Panorama
Banff National Park, Alberta
September 24, 2016

Distance: 20.0 km
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 1110 m

Panorama Ridge runs north to south, and much of it is rugged, but extending like a contrary afterthought is a gentle spur, the East Ridge. One can follow good trails almost to the base of this ridge before hiking offtrail to the summit. Aside from light bushwhacking, there’s nothing technical about the ascent, and from Panorama Meadows you can climb the mountain from just about anywhere. The Meadows, incidentally, is a popular spot for viewing larches in the autumn, so there is no prettier time to climb the East Ridge of Panorama than when the larches are turning yellow. Zora has visited the East Ridge a few times, all in the fall, and offered to share the experience with Kari and me.

The only drawback to the trip is the 6.7 km hike to Taylor Lake. Walled in by trees, there is absolutely nothing to view along the trail and nothing to do but put one foot after another. But the trail is wide, climbs gradually, and other than being extremely muddy in places, it did the job of taking us to the lake.

After pausing to take in the blue waters of Taylor Lake ringed by rocky slopes, we turned back into the trees and started up the narrow trail leading to Panorama Meadows. But we turned off before the Meadows, at a clearing (631338) about 100 m from a creek we had to cross. We aimed for the end of the East Ridge and made our way through a mix of yellow larches and evergreens. Once on the ridge, we merely followed it to the summit. A trail runs up the ridge but being mostly under snow, it helped us little. (Unfortunately, I had issues with my GPS batteries and wasn’t able to record our entire ascent, but I was able to track our descent.)

Unlike the broad ridge we hiked up, the summit is an odd, horn-like projection with a small footprint. We didn’t stay long on top, and a sudden, strong wind drove us down the ridge where we took a sheltered break. After lunch, we headed down the slope through the trees to Panorama Meadows and to the trail. We followed the trail back, passing groups who, like us, came to see the yellow larches, but unlike us, didn’t seek the panoramic viewpoint above the Meadows, the East Ridge of Panorama.

KML and GPX Tracks

One of two bridges that break up the monotony of the long approach

One section of trail looks much the same as the next

View of the creek from the second bridge

Just before the lake we crossed soggy marshland that held small ponds

Taylor Lake

The south end of Panorama Ridge. The trail to the Panorama Meadows begins behind Kari.

Starting up the trail to the Meadows

The East Ridge is on the right

After crossing the creek we headed to the end of the ridge

Crossing a clearing

We hiked through a mix of evergreens and larches

Some larches towered well above us

On the ridge

The ridge rises up sharply ahead

Looking back along the larch-covered ridge

The ridge becomes rocky

The rocks get bigger

Looking back

Heading to the summit

The unusual summit juts out from the broad ridge

Looking back on the way to the summit

Zora waits for us on the mountaintop

Heading back along the ridge

Dropping down to Panorama Meadows

Mount Bell in the background

Panorama Meadows

Looking back at the East Ridge

82 N/8 Lake Louise (dotted line shows ascent)

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