Louise Falls [WI 5]
Today I went climbing Louise Falls, right next to Lake Louise, with Gery Unterasinger leading. (Gery is a local guide originally from Austria, who happens to know very well another Austrian guide, Bruno, with whom I climbed the Studelgrat route on the Großglockner a few years ago, small world!) The weather was fantastic: cold enough to trust the ice, but without the freezing wind of the past days. The approach walk is quite easy from the Lake Louise parking lot, following the edge of the (frozen) lake for about 20 minutes (the only worry being to have to step away from the horse-sleight bringing tourists to the end of the lake).
The frozen falls are quite beautiful, with a very intense blue, and the ice is pleasant to climb, especially on the steeper upper pitch as it has a lot of icicles in which to stuck the ice-axe without hitting the ice. There was a group of three climbers rappelling down as we arrived (at 2pm, after the morning talks!), and a couple of Australian climbers already were on the second pitch (yes, there are Australian ice-climbers!). Gery took to the right and we managed to get to the end of the second pitch at the same time as the couple without making a nuisance. The second belay is unique in that the frozen waterfall hides a huge cave that looks more like a cathedral thanks to the blue light provided by the ice…
The last pitch is much harder (or/and my arms were getting tired by then!) both due to the nature of the ice, preventing good footholds, and to its steepness, but it is quite exhilarating to be climbing a pillar of sheer ice with no rock behind.
From the top, there is an easy path in the snow getting back to the main Lake Louise side-trail. The whole climb took around two hours, thanks to Gery who head-climbed with very few protections an ice-fall that was presumably the hardest I ever climbed, and so we were back in Banff way before the evening meal at the Banff Centre.