Peak Finder

Photo: Looking south to Mount Babel from the Moraine Lake Road

Mount Babel

  • 3101 m (10174ft)
  • First Ascent
  • Naming History
  • Hiking and Trails
51.3061N -116.163W
Located between upper Consolation Lake Valley and Moraine Lake

Province: Alberta
Park: Banff
Headwater: Bow
Visible from Highway: 1
Ascent Date: 1910
Ascent Party: A.R. Hart, E.O. Wheeler, L.C. Wilson, H.H. Worsfold
Year Named: 1899
Named for: The small mountain named the "Tower of Babel" lies immediately to the north of this peak.
Popular Hike: Lakes Louise/Moraine/O'Hara
Journal Reference: CAJ 3-73

The dramatic east face of Mount Babel rises vertically some 1000 metres above the Consolation Valley near Moraine Lake. The mountain was the scene of one of the most dramatic rescues in the history of the National Park Warden Service.

The extremely steep east cliffs of Mount Babel were the site of a climbing accident and dramatic rescue in August, 1966. Charlie Locke and Brian Greenwood had bivouacked on a small ledge below an overhang, about 75 metres from the top. The next morning Charlie spent an hour placing pitons into the overhanging wall while standing on a stirrup suspended from above. Suddenly the highest piton pulled out and Charlie fell backwards into space. He dropped 15 metres until the last piton and Greenwood?s belay stopped him. However he had broken his wrist and after a painful struggle regained the ledge where the two climbers were now stranded.

Walter Perren organized and supervised their rescue the following morning. It was the first time a helicopter was used in a Canadian Rockies rescue. It also made use of a block and tackle system that had been devised by Perren for just such an eventuality. The system involved a cable on which warden Bill Vroom was lowered to the climbers below. Three times Vroom descended over the edge and was then pulled over to the ledge by a rope thrown by Greenwood. First Locke and then Greenwood were pulled to the top of the cliff while on Vroom's back. It is one of the classic stories of mountain rescue in the Canadian Rockies and likely Walter Perren's finest hour in the warden service. He was honoured in 1968 when Sapta, peak number 5 in the adjacent Valley of the Ten Peaks, was renamed in his honour.

The story is dramatically told in "Switchbacks" by Sid Marty.

See Mount Perren (Siffleur area) and Mount Perren (Valley of the Ten Peaks)

Photo: Looking south to theTower of Babel (left) and Mount Babel from the Moraine Lake Road

Looking southwest to Mount Fay (left) and Mount Babel from the Bow Valley Parkway

Looking south to Mount Babel from the Moraine Lake Road

Looking west-southwest to Mount Fay (left) and Mount Babel from the Bow Valley Parkway

Panorama from The Bow Valley Parkway (l-r) Mount Fay, Mount Babel, Mount Bowlen, Mount Little, Tonsa, Mount Perren, Mount Allen

Looking east to Mount Babel (left) and Mount Fay from Eiffel Peak

Looking south-southwest to Mount Babel (courtesy Sonny Bou)