Lake O'Hara

Elevation: 2115 m
Elevation Gain: 430 m
My Ski Ascents:
March 24 2013, March 24 2012, February 12 2012

The end of March draws near and Matt starts to go into mountain withdrawal. Sure, cross-country skiing in Peter Lougheed Park is nice and I’ll even admit to enjoying the occasional day at a downhill ski resort (despite the malevolent crowds) but it’s hard to find that sense of isolation that I covet without putting myself in harm’s way avalanche-wise in the winter. Lake O’Hara, however, offers the perfect balance of isolation and splendid mountain scenery to hold me over for a couple more weeks until the spring thaw begins to hit the hills in the front ranges. It’s for that reason that I try to ski into Lake O’Hara at least once a year – preferably on a day with a cloudless sky so that I can soak in the views of the monstrous peaks of the divide that tower high above this area. After checking the weather forecast and confirming the bluebird skies in the area on the Lake Louise ski area webcam, I made the quick decision to abandon my previous plans to ski in K-Country (sorry mom) and made haste for Yoho National Park for my annual date with beautiful Lake O’Hara!

Bluebird skies on the way up the Lake O’Hara fire road! It’s hard not to be ecstatic when you’re in the mountains on a day like this!

Although the ski up the fire road is a little lengthy, views like this one of the stunning north peak of Mount Victoria easily keep one motivated.

A massive glacier hangs between 11,000ers Mount Victoria (left) and Mount Huber right as you round a bend on the fire road.

Views worth taking your camera out and freezing your hands for!

The sight of Mount Biddle can only signal one thing: that the lake (and the best views of the day) are within reach just minutes ahead!

Another nice thing about the ski up to Lake O'Hara: the chance to warm up and eat lunch in front of the wood stove in the log cabin by the lake!

I thought I would have the cabin all to myself for lunch but I was mistaken. No matter; I clearly love the company of goats!

Postcard-worthy views of frozen Lake O’Hara tucked between Mount Huber, Mount Lefroy, Glacier Peak and Yukness Mountain.

The continental divide runs along the ridge between Mount Lefroy and the aptly named Glacier Peak.

Giants Mount Hungabee and Mount Biddle high atop the Opabin Plateau and some cabins on the south shores of Lake O’Hara.

Mount Hungabee looks stunning from this area.

Mount Biddle, no less so.

Lake O’Hara panorama. From left to right: Wiwaxy Peaks, Mount Huber, Mount Lefroy, Glacier Peak, Yukness Mountain, Mount Hungabee, Mount Biddle and Mount Schaffer. Click to see larger.

Mount Schaffer is apparently a scramble from Schaffer Lake…consider it added to the to-do list!

Another skier makes his way across frozen Lake O’Hara with Odaray Mountain as his backdrop.

The sheer east face of Odaray.

One of my favorite parts of skiing to Lake O’Hara is traversing the frozen lake – the wide open area grants you an unobstructed view of the spectacular scenery all around!

Seven Sisters Falls frozen on the east shore of the lake.

Panorama looking north after crossing the lake. From left to right: Wiwaxy Peaks, Mount Huber and Mount Lefroy. Click to see larger.

Enjoying my ski!

Photo-op with Lefroy. After soaking in the view all the way across the lake and back, it was time to start the rapid descent 12 km back to the car!

Last views of Hungabee and Biddle from the Lake O’Hara outlet stream.

On the way down, I couldn’t resist sneaking off the tree-surrounded fire road for a bit to get better views from the open valley nearby. Here you can see Mount Niles, Paget Peak and Mount Bosworth as I make my way back towards the car paralleling the fire road.

Mount Niles.

Panorama looking back up the open valley above the banks of a frozen creek towards Lake O’Hara. From left to right: Collier Peak, the Watchtower, Mount Victoria North Peak, Wiwaxy Peaks, Mount Schaffer, Park Mountain and Cathedral Mountain. Click to see larger.

Stunning north Victoria and Wiwaxy beyond.

Wiwaxy is a really cool looking mountain from this aspect.

One last view of the Watchtower and North Victoria before completing the very rapid final descent to the parking lot.