Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Hiking Trails - Larch Valley Trail to Sentinel Pass

[1-Mt Temple from Lake Louise visitor kiosk parking lot - click to enlarge]

The distance of the hike posted today is about 16.5km distance return with an elevation gain of 880m with a time frame of about 8 hours via the Larch Valley. The photos are from a hike taken in late September and the snow covered peaks will bring a visual relief to those visitors experiencing extreme heat in their locations.

[2-Moraine Lake - click to enlarge]

The trailhead is 100m past the Moraine Lake Lodge, along the lakeshore. Here the trail branches right and begins its steep climb through thick forest of Englemann Spruce to Larch Valley and the Minnestimma Lakes (a First Nations word for “sleeping water”). The first of the switchbacks begin slightly after 1km. By remaining on the trail and avoiding short cuts, this prevents erosion and soil damage.

[3- On Larch Valley trail - click to enlarge]

[4- Larch trees across valley - click to enlarge]

[5-Larch trees and Mount Bowlen - click to enlarge]

An ice-filled gully known to mountaineers as the 3-3.5 couloir lies between Mount Bowlen and Tonsa, 3057m (10,030 ft). In the past it was used by climbers to access the Neil Colgan Alpine Club Hut until several accidents occurred. It is no longer recommended.

[6- Snowy larch valley trail - click to enlarge]

[7-Larch trees in the sun - click to enlarge]

[8-Clark's Nutcracker - click to enlarge]

2.5km up the trail is a junction for Eiffel Lake and Wenkchemna Pass where the trail goes ahead. Take the right fork for Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass. Here the trail climbs into the Larch Valley meadows.

[9-Larch Valley and some of the Ten Peaks - click to enlarge]

[10-Moon over Larch Valley Trail - click to enlarge]

[11-Larch Valley and some of the Ten Peaks - click to enlarge]

From Larch Valley, 520m above Moraine Lake and 205m below Sentinel Pass are panoramic views. In autumn the larch tree needles turn golden. From Larch Valley it is another 2.8 km to the top of the pass at 2611m (8,566 feet).

[12-Sentinel Pass destination for the day - click to enlarge]

Sentinel Pass is one of the highest in Banff National Park. Those hikers going up to the pass or crossing over should be wearing sturdy hiking boots while being aware of the possibility of falling and rolling rock. This particular hike ends at the top of Sentinel Pass where it is snow bound.

[13-Z marks the trail to Sentinel Pass - click to enlarge]

[14-Moon over mountain in Larch Valley - click to enlarge]

[15-Westernmost of the Ten Peaks - click to enlarge]

[16-Uppermost Minnestimma Lake and Sentinel Pass - click to enlarge]

[17-Minnestimma Creek below uppermost Minnestimma Lake. Mt Fay in background - click to enlarge]

[18-Upper Minnestimma Lake from Sentinel Pass trail - click to enlarge]

Steep switchbacks up to Sentinel Pass at 2611m.

[19-Sentinel Pass - click to enlarge]

[20-Sentinel Pass Trail at Pinnacle Mountain - click to enlarge]

[21-Minnestimma Lakes from higher up Sentinel Pass - click to enlarge]

[22-Pinnacle Peak adjacent Sentinel Pass - click to enlarge]

[23-Mount Temple from Sentinel Pass - click to enlarge]

[24-Looking north into Paradise Valley from Sentinel Pass - click to enlarge]

[25-Trail into Paradise Valley under the snow - click to enlarge]

[26-The Sentinel and Paradise Valley from Sentinel Pass - click to enlarge]

The tallest of the pinnacle spires is known as the Grand Sentinel. This pass was first ascended in 1894 by Samuel Anderson and Yandell Henderson. Several days later they returned with their companions to climb Mount Temple at 3543m (11,625 ft).

[27-Coming back down Larch Valley - click to enlarge]

[28-Larch Valley and the Ten Peaks, with Mt Fay, snowcapped - click to enlarge]

Mount Fay, 3235m (10614 ft) was named by Charles E. Fay in 1902 and first climbed in 1904 by Gertrude Benham guided by Christian Kaufman.

[29-Valley trail with Mt Fay - click to enlarge]

[30-Larch Valley - click to enlarge]

[31-Larch Valley - click to enlarge]

[32-Moraine Lake from Larch Valley trail - click to enlarge]

[33-Moraine Lake from Larch Valley trail - click to enlarge]

[34-Canoes on Moraine Lake - click to enlarge]

ParksCanada recommends that anyone hiking on this trail to ensure they are in a party of four or more for safety from Grizzly bears.

ParksCanada – Banff
Trail Conditions
Gem Trek maps for Lake Louise and Skoki -

Map from parkscanada of half day hikes in Lake Louise and Moraine Lake area

Photo Credits: [1]to{34] inclusive were taken by brilang CC=nc-sa-flickr.


Leah J. Utas said...

Beautiful. Thanks for the refreshing hike.

Lauren said...

Your pictures always make me want to get outside and hike! Just beautiful!

Teresa said...

The pictures today were stunning, Barbara!! I loved the colors of the trees and the magnificent mountains. I was ready to go solo and head for those canoes until I read that last comment about the grizzly bears... (so much for my solitary idyll among the mountains).

Barbara Martin said...

Leah, that little frosting on the mountains makes it look refreshing.

Lauren, then at least your soul is refreshed.

Teresa, on Moraine Lake there is the lodge close by, and if you desire to canoe it would be prudent to take at least another person with you. I'm glad you liked the hike.

Charles Gramlich said...

Wow, magnificient. I especialy like the picture with the reflection of the mountains in the water.

Barbara Martin said...

Charles, these are some of the best photos Brian Lang has done.

RuneE said...

I fell immediately for those two mirror-image reflection pictures, but I'm very week on those. The first one was a "stunner", but the second subtler and therefore my favourite. And the rest - a fabulous trail.

Barbara Martin said...

RuneE, many people love scenes or photos where there are reflections in water. I fall into the same category.

Steve Malley said...

Can't wait for summer in this hemisphere, so I can get hiking again...

Barbara Martin said...

Steve, you're in an excellent location for it in New Zealand.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Barbara,
Magestic, stunning, and wonderful!I was just out in the mountains and now want to be there again in the high places. I so enjoyed my sunday morning virtual tramp. Cheers!

Barbara Martin said...

Robb, I was thinking of you when I posted this hike with its frosting of snow on the mountains and your annual trek into the mountains of New Zealand. These virtual hikes are my soul savers from city life.

L.A. Mitchell said...

Gorgeous, Barbara. You really outdid yourself with this post. The second photo inspires all kinds of looks like a mirror to an alternate reality. Love it :)

Brian said...

Barbara, these are just stunning and beautiful photos, the refections are just breath taking. So glad I well enough to be looking and posting again...great to be viewing such lovely blogs, thank you.