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Wastach Peak
Lake Louise, Alberta
September 15, 2012

Distance:14.5 km
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 970 m

It was a beautiful, end-of-summer weekend when Dinah and I climbed Wastach Peak in Lake Louise. The weather was much warmer than expected, and below the icy, gray peaks, larches had started turning, lighting up the dark forest with splashes of yellow.

Because of group restrictions in the park, Dinah and I couldn't do it alone so we teamed up with Taras and Francisco from Clubtread. We met in Calgary and carpooled to the trailhead at Moraine Lake. The long drive gave us an opportunity to get to know them. Like us, they were climbing enthusiasts, and we immediately took a liking to them.

The route up Wastach Peak is straightforward. From Moraine Lake start up the trail to Wenkchemna Pass. Well before the pass, however, the trail passes below a walled gully east of Wastach Peak. This gully leads to Wastach Pass, but after hiking out of the gully, one can start up just about anywhere on the broad lower slopes of Wastach.

When we set off at 9:30 am, the parking lot was already half full, and the trail was filled with hikers. Soon after we started up the switchbacks, we met up with Marko who was leading COC (Calgary Outdoor Club) members on a climb above Wenkchemna Pass. We parted ways with them when we reached the base of Wastach Peak. As Marko and his friends continued to Wenkchemna Pass, we started up the gully.

Taking our cue from previous trip reports, we hadn't brought helmets, but as we learned on our trip, there is a risk of dropping a rock on someone; loose rocks abound on Wastach's lower slopes and helmets wouldn't be out of place here. To minimize the risks, we stayed together in the gully but spread out across the lower slopes. After reaching the crest, the grade and risks eased while the scenery got better. We followed the crest and reached the summit just over three hours after starting. There we took advantage of the mild weather to loiter for an hour. Since the mountain straddles the ends of Paradise Valley and the Valley of the Ten Peaks, it's the perfect place to gaze down both valleys.

With the day still young, we took our time on the return leg. Instead of going directly to the gully, we dropped down to Wastach Pass before making our way back to the trail. Along the way, we paused to watch a grizzly and her two cubs foraging below the trail. It was a fine way to finish the day.

KML and GPX Tracks

The trail passes Eiffel Peak before reaching Wastach Peak

Wenkchemna Pass and Wenkchemna Peak

Coming up to the ascent gully below Wastach Peak

Eiffel Lake

Starting up the gully

Looking back at Eiffel Lake after we started ascending

Following a rough trail in the gully

A few larches have turned completely yellow

After climbing out of the gully, we headed up the rubbly lower slopes of Wastach

Grinding up the lower slopes

Eiffel Peak provides a dramatic backdrop

The rocks got bigger as we ascended

Almost on the crest

Looking down at the Valley of Ten Peaks

Francisco scrambles up

I paused to look down at Paradise Valley

Looking down Paradise Valley

Mount Temple in the background

Dinah heads to the summit

Lingering snow near the summit

Dinah nears the summit

Francisco and Taras arrive on top of Wastach

Summit pose

Taras on a shelf below the summit. Glacier Peak (centre) and Mt Lefroy (right)

A close look at Mt. Temple

Francisco and Dinah coming down to the pass

View of Paradise Valley from Wastach Pass

Heading back. Mount Tuzo, Deltaform Mountain and Neptuak Mountain ahead.

Back on the trail we spot Marko's group – five people if you include the snowman – on Wenkchemna's south ridge (mouse over to zoom in lots)

Heading back down the trail

A grizzly forages below the trail

82 N/8 Lake Louise

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