Warning: this mountain may give you summit fever!
“Your kids made it to the summit of Fairview?! I have friends who’ve been heli-evacuated off that mountain!” a Lake Louise local exclaimed. A big hike for most people, Mount Fairview is an epic hike for a 5 year old (and pretty decent for a 7 year old)! How did we do it? Slowly and steadily, with treats, bribes, and a lie.
|Breakfast of champions|
|Trail to Saddle Mountain and Sheol Valley (and Saddleback and Mount Fairview)|
|Avalanche Track Lake Louise Ski Resort|
|Chateau Lake Louise and Lake Louise|
|Take the right fork for Fairview!|
|Big POG and Little POG racing to the pass|
|Saddleback Pass – Mount Temple in the background|
|View from Saddleback|
From here, the trail becomes incredibly steep (~450 m gain in 1.5 km), so it’s easy to lose perception of speed and time at Mini-Me pace. “You can tell me when it’s over, if the high was worth the pain.” It took about an hour to go from Saddleback to Fairview’s summit, but it felt longer. About halfway up, the girls started to doubt my claim that Fairview “wasn’t a super big mountain” and said they wanted to go back. We coaxed them on with chocolate and promised them Laggan’s treats after, but only if they put their happy pants on. Little POG and Big POG quickly stopped moaning and carried on through the loose rock. Within half an hour we were sitting on top of the world taking in a panoramic feast for the eyes. Glaciers and peaks surrounded us and Lake Louise glittered below. Little POG kept exclaiming “I can’t believe we did it!!”
|Follow the switchbacks to the top!|
|Crazy steep but totally worth it. Keep going!|
|You can do it!|
|Almost there. Saddle Peak and Saddleback below.|
|Final push to the summit.|
|Building a fairy house on Fairview’s summit|
|We did it!!|
|Fairview Summit Panorama|
|“Nice to meet you, where you been? I could show you incredible things.”|
|Mount Fairview Summit|
After a long, well earned break at the top, we returned the way we came. ***Do NOT descend descend the north face, as there are dangerous cliffs below (look up from the lake if you don’t believe me).*** We could definitely feel our knees on the way down, but the kids ran down effortlessly like mountain goats “cause [they’re] young and [they’re] reckless.” We chased rainbows, listened for marmot whistles, and sang some more! In a couple hours, we were back where we started with daylight to spare, and headed in to the Village for a “good job treat”.
|This summit plaques warns hikers of dangerous cliffs below. Return via Saddleback!|
|Laggan’s for the win!|
When we admitted to the girls that we’d lied about Prairie Mountain and they’d just climbed their biggest peak ever, they weren’t mad; they were stoked! They started listing off peaks they wanted to do next. “When can we climb Temple?!” “How big is Everest? Can I climb Everest when I’m bigger??” Beautiful Mount Fairview had given them summit fever! While Temple and Everest may be a ways off, we can dream and train! We can’t wait to bag more peaks as a family!!
|“I’ve got a blank space, baby, and I’ll write your name.”|
Mount Fairview at a Glance
Distance: ~10 km
Elevation: ~1000 m
Difficulty: Class 1 scramble for steepness and loose rock (i.e. strenuous hike). New to scrambling? See my Tips for First Time Scrambling. Please note visitors from sea level may have a hard time as the summit is at 2744 m ( 9,003′).
Time: Allow 5-7 hours for adults and big kids. Allow more time with younger children. (It took us took 8.25 hours including 2 hours of breaks with our 5 and 7 year olds).
Nearest washrooms: Public washrooms in the public parking lot at Lake Louise.
Stroller friendly: No
Trailhead: Near the Lake Louise Boathouse
Route: Follow the signs to Saddleback/Mount Fairview. At the turnoff for Fairview Lookout (a few hundred metres in), continue straight. After a couple kilometres, you’ll get to the Saddleback turnoff – go right. Continue to the pass. From the pass, go to the right and take the switchbacks up Mount Fairview. There’s a well beaten path to the top. Come back the way you came (do NOT descend the north face – dangerous cliffs).
1. Get to the Lake Louise parking lot before 7 am to get parking during the summer, and note that parking is $21/day. Other options are to take the shuttle from the Village or hike midweek. See our story Getting Around Banff National Park for more info.
2. Hike to Saddleback in late July to see wildflowers or late September to see the larches!
3. Bring hiking poles and extra layers. It’s super chilly at the top!
4. Check the trail report and avoid this trail when snow covered (avalanche risk).
What is your favorite peak?