Trailhead: Park at a small pullout on the west side of the Icefields Parkway 21kms north of Lake Louise. Banff National Park.
Description: Mount Hector is not a hike. It’s a mountaineering objective that requires experience in glacier travel snow and ice alpine climbing. Cross the highway towards a creek bed then follow the the trail located on the right side of the creek until you reach the bottom of the headwall below Mount Andromache and Mount Hector. The headwall is considered a moderate to difficult scramble and what I thought the most difficult part of the climb.
During the winter months avalanche hazard near the headwall is a major concern. Scramble your way up the left hand side of the headwall until you reach a well worn trail that heads towards the east valley straight in front of you. Once you enter the open meadows you can stay left towards the second headwall or turn right towards a very steep scree slope leading up to the base of Mount Hector. I would recommend ascending the left route and descending the right route as it’s much easier going down then up on loose scree.
Once you hike past the second headwall start working your way right towards the toe of the Hector Glacier. There are several terraced ledges and open flat spots that provide excellent bivy sites if you choose to spend the night.
Once you arrive at the toe of the glacier there is a large boulder that makes a great spot to gear-up. Crampons, harness, snow ice protection and ropes are certainly recommended for hectors north glacier. There are large holes and crevasses with some that remain snow covered year round.
We approached left of center towards the view of the summit. Negotiating small to large crevasses until working right to avoid a steep ice shelf with broken neve and poor snow bridges. From the low angle neve work your way to the far end of the bowl right of the summit slope until the first bergschrund is in sight.
We climbed Mount Hector in August so the bergschrund was quite exposed and easy to cross. It posed little concern. From here you’ll find rock debris from the cliffs of hector above where you have two approach options. This is not be a good place to hang around as rock fall is quite frequent. You can ascend immediately heading towards the summit via 45 degree snow and ice slopes or traverse left to lower angled ice. The lower angle being the more popular choice. Negotiate a second bergschrund and work your way to the rocky summit.
Depending on time of year a small climb is required to get off the glacier and onto hectors rocky ridge where steeper ice or snow generally awaits. The summit from here is less than a pitch but required some snow and ice protection for peace of mind. Early season conditions would probably may provide a more direct route to the summit. Descend the route as climbed.
Mount Hector is a popular ski mountaineering objective in the winter months but even then winter glacier travel requires technical experience and knowledge of winter mountaineering. Photo’s below were taken in early August. This Is Bear Country.