The Tower of Babel was named such by Walter Wilcox as it reminded him of the biblical rendition that reached into the heavens. In reality, this is not such a massive feature by Canadian Rocky standards. This quartzite spire is however much better known than the mountain named after it, Mount Babel, which is directly behind (south) of the tower. Its easy access via Moraine Lake Road makes it a common objective for both technical climbers and scramblers. The scramble route is straightforward and three rock routes on the north side of the tower are no more than six pitches in length and are around 5.7. (McKay Route, Greenwood Route and Fuhrmann Route). The scramble can obviously be used for descent of these north face routes. The East Face route of Mount Babel itself is a much more viable challenge, rated at Alpine IV 5.10 A1 or a strenuous free at 5.11.
The Tower of Babel is located over Moraine Lake, which is part of the Lake Louise portion of Banff National Park, one of four connecting national parks in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. The approach trail (Consolation Lake Trail) to the Tower of Babel is a commonly used trail among the tourists who are delivered in mass by bus to the Lake Moraine Lodge.
Getting There- The Trans-Canada Highway dissects Banff National Park east to west as you come in from Calgary. Travel to the Lake Louise exit and turn left through town and then take another left on Lake Moraine Road. Drive to the end of the road at Moraine Lake Lodge, approximately 11kms.
Red Tape- You will be required to purchase a national park pass as you enter the park. This pass is good for all four national parks. If you plan many visits to Canadian National Parks within one year, you should purchase an annual pass. There are no permit requirements to climb in Banff National Park, but all camping is regulated. There is also a backcountry permit required if you plan on spending a night in the backcountry versus the town campsites. This can be obtained via the parks website which is included above. Park headquarters are located in Banff and you will drive through the manned kiosks as you enter the park.
This is active grizzly country, therefore, you should always have bear spray on your person during non-hibernation months. I advise checking with Parks Canada for any area and/or trail closures. The trail to the Tower of Babel is a commonly closed trail.
When To Climb- As with most scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I chose to climb Tower of Babel in June during a mild snow storm. This is not a very significant objective. Skiing to the summit is not conducive.
Camping- Of course it really does not make sense to camp for this objective. You start at the Lake Moraine Lodge. You can go on line at Banff National Park to pick a camp site and obtain your camping permit. You will also be required to obtain your backcountry permit, if you are going to use a backcountry site, which is separate, but can be obtained simultaneously.
Mountain Conditions- The Banff National Park website has weather, wildlife reports, trail closures, etc. Outside of the parks web site, Canadian Avalanche Association is also useful, particularly for winter travel. Canadian Alpine Accident Reports is also extremely relevant. There are currently (2006) two accident reports associated with the Tower of Babel, one involving the scramble.
The scramble route can be found at the dowclimbing.com
Thanks to Dow Williams for this description.