Observation Peak
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Observation Peak – Bow Summit Area

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TS - True Summit believe it or not - see next photo

FS - False Summit but still an awesome spot!

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TS - True Summit in better perspective. This photo taken from Mt. Jimmy Simpson.

Just 15-20 yards past this turnoff is the turnoff for Observation Peak parking (almost opposite the Peyto Lake turnoff)

Photo taken looking north and opposite the Peyto Lake turnoff

Observation Peak

Scramble: Class 1 – Steep Hiking, Some Use of Hands

Altitude: 3,174m (10,410 ft)

Elevation Gain: 1,100m (3,608 ft)

Ascent Time: 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 Hours

Best Season to Scramble: End of June to October


This scramble offers beautiful views of Bow Lake and the Wapta Icefield. It has a short approach and well worth the effort. Lots of scree but you can pick your way for the best footing.

Getting There

Head west out of Calgary on the TransCanada highway # 1 to Lake Louise 187km (116.9 miles). Continue west on the TransCanada for another 2.5km and take the Icefield Parkways / Jasper exit (highway 93) going north. Head north 39km (24.4 miles) to the Bow Summit area. Just 20 yards past the left hand turn into the Peyto Lake viewpoint there is a right hand turn onto a gravel road. Take the right hand turn onto the gravel road and drive a very short distance to a spot where the road is impassable. From this spot you are looking right at the slopes of Observation Peak.

Route Description

Route finding skills definitely a must on this peak to find the easiest way. There is more than one route to reach the upper slopes.

From the gravel road parking spot take a look at the various gullies on the face of Observation Peak. There is more than one way up but our route goes up the right hand gully. Head down the road for a few minutes and just before the road turns left head off right and begin a bit of route finding in a South then Easterly direction to gain entrance to the right hand gully. If you have to do more than class 2 scrambling in the gully or above you are off route from the easiest way up and should reconnoiter your route if your intent is to find the easiest way up. Some experienced scramblers may purposely take a harder route because they want more of a challenge.

When you gain the drainage head up it looking to your right for a short steep slope to exit the gully. This of course assumes you are in the correct gully, if not you will have to route find your way and rely upon your own level of experience and skill. Climb up this short steep slope to gain access to the terrain to the right of and above the gully. From here you angle left and up a break in the upper cliffs then a short ridge scramble to the lower peak. From here you will see the true summit down a short connecting ridge and 20 minutes further north. Go straight north from the connecting ridge and not up the rounded hump as this hump is lower than the true summit. Be careful on the connecting ridge as there is a bit of exposure here.