Mount Wilson

Canada | Banff | Banff Rock


Mount Wilson is a large, broad mountain that towers over The Crossing resort at the junction of the David Thompson Highway (Hwy #11) and the Icefields Parkway (Hwy #93). It rises gradually to its snow covered summit some distance to the north. The actual summit at 3200m is not visible from the highway but an impressive series of cliffs situated directly above the resort have an obvious appeal for rock climbing. They are formed in a long band of white quartzite which outcrops high on the mountain and are separated by gullies into three distinct towers or buttresses. The most impressive is Peyto Tower with its well-defined prow and large undercut wall about 150 m high on its right-hand side. To the right is Middle Rock which is smaller and has both steep and lower-angled sections, and right again is Wilson Wall, the longest of the three buttresses which curves away to the north and drops down slightly paralleling the David Thompson Highway. The cliffs are marked in the photograph opposite which is taken from the highway bridge over the Saskatchewan River. There are a number of compelling lines, the most notable being the prominent prow on the left side of Peyto Tower (climbed by The Prow), and a quick scan with binoculars will reveal numerous crack and corner lines running up the cliffs. The main problem is the long approach time, typically about 3 hours, and this has seriously limited development. The cliffs are really too high for casual cragging but they do dip down towards their eastern end where they are more accessible from the David Thompson Highway. Camping high up is also an option and there is a good site below Middle Rock although water supply is limited to snow melt in the gullies. Development of the cliffs has been very sporadic and information on many of the existing climbs is limited. The exception is the climbing at the East End of Wilson Wall where many of the climbs were established by staff from the Centre for Outdoor Education in Nordegg. J. Mills and Dave Marra, in particular, have provided much of the information for that section. Currently, there are no sport routes on the cliffs but the rock is very solid and generally provides excellent gear protection. There are many unclimbed lines and the potential for adventure seems endless. The mountain is named after Tom Wilson, one of the most famous of the early outfitters and discoverer's of Lake Louise, who employed Bill Peyto as one of his assistants. The rock is a very pure form of quartzite, younger geologically than the Gog quartzite at the Lake Louise area, which contains only trace amounts of elements such as iron and manganese which colour many similar rocks.

  • < 5.9
  • 10a - 10d
  • 11a - 11d
  • 12a - 12d
  • 13a >
  • Peyto Tower
    2 0 0 0 0
  • Middle Rock
    0 1 0 0 0
  • West Wilson Wall
    2 3 0 0 0
  • East Wilson Wall
    11 2 0 0 0

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