462Elevation Gain (m)
The Tower of Babel is an easily accessible scramble with comparatively nominal elevation change, and consequently many scramblers disregard this hike altogether. But do not let this lull you into a false belief that this is somehow a proportionately easy scramble. There is much work involved in attaining this flat summit, even though it is half the height of most of the scrambles in the surrounding area. Although it requires a significant amount of work, the climb can be used for a quick morning or afternoon scramble because of the easy access and small elevation gain.

Mainly a climb of scree through a narrowing gorge, this uncomplicated journey presents no technical challenges. The summit differs from most others in that it is a wide, flat cap plagued with way too many cairns.

Moraine Lake Lodge from the plateau summit of the Tower of Babel.

Looking upward to the right gives the climber a perfect understanding of the commitment that must be made to gain the summit. So, at any time, break to the right into the forest, to arrive at the base of the scree slope to reach the gorge. There are a couple of trails and cairns extending into the forest, but they are difficult to find. Once on the scree slope, begin to climb toward the obvious ravine and look for the main trail ascending along the right side of the scree. The footing is more solid here, and most of the drudgery is substituted with larger rocks and some firm earth. Save the scree slope for a quick descent.

The objective should be evident as the trail progresses upward toward the gaping opening of the ravine. Upon entering this high, steep-walled structure, merge to the right side and clamber up onto a small ridge that parallels the loose scree in the middle. The rock debris in the middle of the gorge is actually more of a soggy, sand-like consistency, making this some of the worst material for climbing. There are minor paths appearing as small game tracks scattered across the little ridge all the way up to the narrowest part of the gorge.

Near the top there is no option but to climb back down to the middle of what now seems more like a canyon and is only a few feet across. The good news is that the scree has all but entirely disappeared. Watch for traffic above you, as there is loose rock and no place to hide from it. A helmet is strongly advised. The path pops out of the narrow gorge to a flat, wide ridge that advances en route to the summit to the left.

The summit is wide, flat and made of limestone slabs, making this one of the most fun summits in the region. There are endless vistas visible from the top, with Panorama Ridge due east, Mount Temple to the northwest and the Consolation valley and lakes to the south.


When Walter Wilcox came upon Moraine Lake in 1894 he quite understandably was under the impression that a large glacial moraine had sealed the lake during the retreat of the Wenkchemna Glacier at the northeast end of the lake. Actually, it was rubble and large boulders fallen from the Tower of Babel and nearby Mount Fay that closed off the lake. As you walk toward the tower, Consolation Lakes or Panorama Ridge, you have to cross this rubble field, and it becomes evident that fallen rocks have formed the natural dam. Even so, there is still a theory and a slim chance that Wilcox may have been correct and that the rock dam could have been deposited by a glacier that reached down from farther up the valley. Wilcox’s original vantage point was from the opposite shoreline, so one can understand how anyone could make this honest mistake.

The Tower of Babel had been left unnamed for five years until Wilcox coined the name in 1899. The name is derived from the Tower of Babel mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 11. The story says that a tower “with its top in the heavens” was constructed in the ancient city of Babel (Babylon). After the Flood, the descendants of Noah journeyed to the east and created the city of Babylon along with the Tower.


From the Lake Louise village, drive up Lake Louise Drive toward the Chateau and turn left on Moraine Lake Road. Continue to the Moraine Lake parking lot, approximately 12 km from the turnoff. Find the trail on the south side of the lot behind the public toilets. Cross the Moraine Lake outlet stream and before long the trail meets its first intersection. Follow the sign to the left to Consolation Lakes over a short avalanche slope. Some boulder hopping is necessary on this rubble.

Hike Map
Gerry Shea

Gerry Shea

Gerry Shea lives in Kamloops with his wife and children and he is also the author of The Aspiring Hiker’s Guide 2: Mountain Treks in British Columbia.

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