Peak Finder

Photo: Observation Peak from the Icefields Parkway, just south of Bow Pass

Observation Peak

  • 3174 m (10,414ft)
  • First Ascent
  • Naming History
51.7422N -116.467W
Located in the Dolomite Creek Valley 3 km northeast of Bow Pass

Province: Alberta
Park: Banff
Headwater: Saskatchewan
Major Valley: Mistaya
Visible from Highway: 93N
Ascent Date: 1895
Ascent Party: Bill Peyto, Walter Wilcox
Year Named: 1898
Named by: C.L. Noyes
Named for: When he climbed the mountain in 1899, it was the best viewpoint which Dr. Noyes had reached.)

In his book, "The Trail to the Charmed Land," Ralph Edwards describes the 1899 expedition he undertook with Rev. C.L. Noyes, Rev. Harry P. Nicholls, Charles Thompson, and George M. Weed. Wilfrid Beattie was the cook and Edwards, the outfitter and guide.

After leaving the train station at Laggan (now Lake Louise) the group proceeded up the Pipestone River, over Pipestone Pass, down the Siffleur Valley to what is now Dolomite Creek. They then turned west to make the first trip through Dolomite Pass to the upper Bow Valley.

While the packtrain struggled though Dolomite Pass, Thompson and Noyes climbed the mountain. In the book, Edwards indicates that they felt that this was the first ascent of this easily climbed mountain. However Walter Wilcox and Bill Peyto had climbed the mountain four years earlier.

Walter Wilcox wrote of their ascent of the mountain that was later to be named Observation Peak as follows: "The next day I induced Peyto to ascent a mountain with me. He was not used to mountain climbing, and had not been any higher than the ridge that we were compelled to cross when we were walking around Mount Assiniboine, which was less than 9000 feet in altitude. The peak which I had now in view lay just to the northeast from our camp on the (Bow) pass. It appeared to be between 9,000 and 10,000 feet high, and offered no apparent difficulties, on the lower part at least... We found not the slightest difficulty in the ascent till we came near the summit... At an altitude of 9800 feet we came to the summit of the arete which we were climbing, and saw the highest point of the mountain about one-third of a mile distant, and considerably higher. Fortunately, a crest of snow connected the two peaks, and with my ice axe I knocked away the sharp edge, and made a path. In a few minutes we were across the difficult part and found an easy slope rising gradually to the summit... Peyto was overwhelmed with the magnificent panorama, and said that he now appreciated, as never before, the mania which impels men to climb mountains.

Photo: Observation Peak from the Icefields Parkway (courtesy Bennett Wong)