4 - 5
FATMAP difficulty grade
Surprise Pass is a very popular route due to it's short length and proximity to Lake Louise.
The route itself is not terribly steep despite how it looks.
The snow is often mediocre as it gets hit by lot's of wind, but it is north facing, so solar slabs are less common.
The route follows the hiking trail to the Saddle that starts from Lake Louise.
This track is often chewed up by snowshoers, so it can be tricky.
Eventually you gain the col, and traverse down a short section towards Mt Aberdeen.
The valley curves towards Aberdeen, but keep an eye for the short snow climb on climbers left that is hidden by a rock outcropping.
Skin up to the top of the pass, and transition here.
The descent is straight forward, though it's advisable to avoid the sides.
There are several other slopes around the corner, and there have been remote triggers of these faces in the past.
Alternatively you can ski 200m down, and bootpack up this in stable conditions.
The descent peters out in a rock field near the valley bottom.
This section can get awkward depending on how much snow there is.
From here cross Lake Louise back to the car park.