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The Professor Falls is a Must-Climb Rockies Ice Route

It's one of the best routes at the grade in the Rocky Mountains with the final pitch being the steepest and most fun

Photo by: Tim Banfield

The Professor Falls is a Canadian classic. The name comes from professor Eckhard Grassman, one of the first ascensionists, who took a fall on the route in 1974. This route forms early and usually lasts until March or April. Due to the constant water supply it can be very wet, even in cold temperatures. All of the anchors are bolts and fixed for rappelling.

To access, you park at Bow Falls near Banff and bike or walk a few kilometres along the Bow River. You will see the route once you’re under the approach gully. The stepped pitches allow many parties can climb the route at the same time. Despite the reputation of the route not having avalanche hazard, there has been avalanches. Check the conditions from the Avalanche Canada here.

The climb starts with three fun pitches of WI4 and is followed by a number of WI3 pitches. The first pitch often feels steeper than it looks and is easier on the right side for the upper section. The second pitch is climbed up the centre. The third pitch is climbed on the left under a big rock protruding from the wall.

This is a must for any serious or weekend warrior ice climb. The pitches are always fat after January, the approach trail will be stepped out and the views of the Bow Valley are hard to beat.

The Professor Falls. Photo Brandon Pullan

The Professor Falls

Gear: Ice screws and two ropes. You can rappel with one 60m, but two makes things easier.
P1: An 85 degree tier leads to a bulge and ledge (WI4)
P2: A short step leads to an easier section (WI3/4)
P3: Up a fun step of with featured ice (WI4)
P4: A short step to snow (WI3)
P5: A few mellow steps to a tree (WI3).
P6: Walk up the gully to the back of the canyon. This is the best pitch, steeper than the rest (WI4).
Descent: Rappel the route off mostly bolted anchors


Lead photo: Tim Banfield