The Tower of Babel is a must do when in the Lake Louise area. Although the approach may look daunting, the scramble is pretty easy technical wise. The large majority of it is a plod up a scree gully. Near the top it gets more solid rock but at the same time, narrows considerably. Due to this being in a gully with LOTS of loose rock, parties above you, and below cliffs; a helmet is strongly recommended.
Depending on the time of year and bear activity, this portion of Lake Moraine requires four people or more to travel through. The number of persons needed does change depending on circumstances.
The Towel of Babel was named after its resemblance to the biblical rendition of the Tower of Babel that reached the heavens. Walter Dwight Wilcox was reminded of this and named the Tower of Babel when he visited the area. In actuality, the Tower of Babel is not a massive feature and although Mount Babel found south, behind the tower is a much bigger mountain, the Tower of Babel is far more known and popular.
The biblical story of the Tower of Babel is told from the Book of Genesis of the Bible. It is meant to explain the confusion of tongues aka the variation of the human language.The story retells a united humanity that spoke one language all across the Earth following the Great Flood who migrated to the east to the land of Shinar. There they decided to build a city with a tower, "whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." Basically a tower so high to make a name for themselves and so they could never be scattered all over the Earth.
According to the story, when God heard of this, he decided that these united people could accomplish whatever they decided to do if they remained united. He then scattered the people all over the Earth and confused their language so that they could not return to each other and city was named Babel and the building of Babel was left along with the unfinished tower.
Walter Wilcox was an early explorer of the Canadian Rockies, in particular the Lake Louise area. Born in 1869 in Chicago IL, Walter was one of the first explorers to ascend Mount Temple, Mount Niblock, Mount Baker and Fairview Mountain. In 1895, he was the first to complete the circuit of Mount Assiniboine.
When Walter arrived in the summer of 1893, much of his time was spent in the Lake Louise area, even camping on the shoreline of Lake Louise. In the summer of 1894, he and 4 others including Samuel Allen who was his partner in many first ascents, paid $12 per week for accommodation and meals at the first chalet at Lake Louise. They became the Lake Louise Club and were set on exploring, climbing and mapping whatever areas they found themselves in.
Walter kept returning to the Lake Louise area and was one of the first visitors to the Valley of the Ten Peaks where he commented; "No scene has ever given me an equal impression of inspiring solitude and rugged grandeur."
Walter went on to write the first major book about the Canadian Rockies which was named “Camping in the Canadian Rockies”. It was one of the first books which measurements of the depth of Lake Louise, a detailed map and an inspiration for others to explore and climb. In 1940, Walter Wilcox made his final visit to the Rockies when he was 71 and it was written that he was “as enthusiastic over the trees and scenery of the mountains as he had been forty years before.”
The tower is a quartzite spire and the views from the top are incredible. You can make out Moraine Lake and the Consolation Lakes. You may even be lucky to find yourself a couch made out of rocks facing a television set, which is too made out of rocks. Oh what it is to have the time and patience to build such luxuries on the summit of a scramble!
Tower of Babel Trip Log
Once you have found parking you will want to head towards the lake shore. Head left over the huge rock pile and follow the trail to Consolation Lakes.
After a few minutes you will come across the large slope of rock and rubble. There are many paths here, some look better than others. Eventually they all converge and your target is the gully in-between the two large cliffs.
The plus side with all of this is that whenever you feel tired you can simply turn around and enjoy the stunning view of Mount Temple.
On your way up you will come across a mini 'cave' on the right hand side which has a little walkway leading up to it.
After the scree portion the ground will turn a lot more solid as you head up solid rock and the walls around you slowly start to funnel you in.
As you near the top you finally get a chance to use your hands as you navigate the last narrowing portion of the gully.
Once you pop out of the gully, hang a left and it's a simple walk to the summit. You come across a wee bit of exposure as you get a chance to peer down beside you.
Once you get the summit you can enjoy the amazing view. The summit offers a uninhibited view of Mount Temple and Lake Moraine below. You can also see the Consolation Lakes which saves you from having to hike out there too see the green pools. Another bonus is the couch, table, and TV! Some folks clearly had WAY too much time available and actually put together large pieces of rock that look perfectly like a couch, a nice coffee table, and a TV. There are even wooden sticks sticking out the top to look like antennas.
Return is the same way you came up.
GPS Plotted Route
What were your experiences scrambling Tower of Babel?
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