Moraine Lake Trip Reports

Tower Of Babel (Northwest Direct 5.7+ / McKay Route 5.7)


Location: Moraine Lake

Summit Elevation (m): 2300

Elevation Gain (m): 400

Total Distance (km): 1

Total Time: 12.00 Hours

Difficulty: 5.7+

Water Available: Moraine Lake

Cell reception: Reliable at Summit, spotty on first half of approach

Rating: 5/5 For the excellent rock, easy approach, and stunning views.

Notes: Bring warm clothes! You’ll be in the shade all day and constant wind makes for chilly belays. Route finding can be difficult but is easier now with the addition of bolted stations (2010). Also watch for (large) loose blocks and falling rock if there are other climbers, it is common to pull on loose microwave sized blocks while climbing.

Photos and Trip Report

Since there is plenty of beta out there for this route I won’t go into any detail, as route finding was by far the crux of the day so I would likely just confuse you! There are a few things I will mention however, we did solo the second to last pitch (to the base of the headwall), and took the left hand finish (bolted station at the far left end below the headwall). For reference we used Dow’s page here as well as the book, “Banff Rock”, but still struggled with route finding. Luckily we ran into another party (who had never climbed Tower of Babel before either), so we ended up mostly following them which aided in our route finding but significantly added to our total time, since we had to wait at each belay. Car to car the NW Direct took us just over 12 hours, but can easily be done in 8 if you know the route and don’t have to wait for other parties to finish. 

Top of pitch 4(?) of the NW Direct route on the Tower of Babel

Taking in the view half way up the NW Direct

Beautiful views up high on the final pitch

Last few moves to the summit!

Moraine Lake from high above, and the swarms of tourists!

On the summit!

Couldn’t resist joining the tourists down at the lake after


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