20150701-Lake Louise Triple Header: Piran, Whyte, Niblock

Thought I’d get back into things “gently” by summiting 3 mountains in one day. Joined 3 others from K7 Climbing on what was dubbed the Lake Louise Triple Header: Mount St. Piran, Mount Whyte, and Mount Niblock.

Hiking up the path from the Lake Louise parking lot we arrived on the Piran summit, hot and sweaty. Alright, Phase 1 done! Down to connect to Lake Agnes.  Scree to the waterfall, which provided the first taste of climbing up the headwall. There was a significant amount of rock falling off Whyte, but it was easily avoided.

Next, more scree that became much steeper. The loose slippery crap was interspersed with scrambling up rubble-strewn rock bands. I thought to myself that this would be quite the energy-intensive descent… Looking at trip beta online later, maybe we should have stayed further to the right. (On the way down we found some cairns, lost sight of them around the top of the bands, and ended up largely descending the same way we came up except at the waterfall, at which we took a slightly different gap that took us kind of/ right into the outlying spray.)

I always had the impression that it ‘doesn’t look too bad’ from the Lake Agnes tea house. Well, it is pretty daunting-looking up close. The scramble route goes directly up the face as viewed from L. Agnes. 

We made it to the Whyte-Niblock col. At the col I was thinking that I wasn’t up for the additional effort of scrambling required to summit Whyte. But hey, we put so much energy into getting to the col and it was only just a bit farther. I knew that I will likely never do this peak again. I knew I would regret not trying it. I reasoned that if my quads started to fail I’d just turn around. I’ve been sitting in a truck doing zero physical activity for the last month or so, remember.

Whyte wasn’t bad at all and didn’t feel too exposed except for the summit ridge. On one occasion my handhold blew (going up the col), and so did LE’s (summit scramble). That doesn’t make a person more confident in the rock, that’s for sure. Even so we were surprised that there was only one other entry for 2015 in the summit register. There are a couple rappel stations set up but we downclimbed back to the col without issue.

Onto Niblock. This peak is far more popular than Whyte probably because its summit scramble is easier and shorter. Niblock was also fine, albeit accomplished at my slow pace. What was I thinking again when I said that this trip would be a good ‘first’ one? If I’m honest my legs were pretty tired and we still had to get back down to L. Agnes, and then to L. Louise. I really didn’t want to consider what would happen if I was too fatigued to brace on the scree, and if I slipped right off a rock band.

When we met up with the path at the Lake Agnes tea house (3.5km from Lake Louise) we encountered so many visitors of all ages wearing Canada shirts, or red shirts, and carrying flags. Spending Canada Day in our Rockies; what a really nice way to celebrate our nation. We finished the triple header in around 11 hours including breaks, an hour faster than we’d estimated.

 

Lake Louise in the morning fog.
Lake Louise in the morning fog.
Starting to head up Mt. St. Piran.
Starting to head up Mt. St. Piran. Temple, Aberdeen, Lefroy, Victoria glaciers in view and the Beehive in the middle distance.
Top of Mt St. Piran.
Top of Mt St. Piran looking east-ish.
Connecting to Whyte-Niblock
Connecting to Whyte-Niblock. Whyte on the left; Niblock on the right. Descend and then climb up to/beside the waterfall (visible middle-left in the photo) and continue to beyond.
Whyte-Niblock col
Route up to the Whyte-Niblock col, roughly, and showing a bit of the ascent/descent route on the lower part of Whyte. Niblock in the back.
Starting the Whyte summit scramble
Starting the Whyte summit scramble
Whyte
Mt Whyte. Nearly there…
Looking towards Mt. Victoria.
On Whyte, looking towards Mt. Victoria.
From Mt Whyte, views of Lake Louise and Lake Agnes.
From Mt Whyte, views of Lake Louise and Lake Agnes.

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