Mt. Chester

Climbed: July, 1996.
Elevation: 3054m = 10,017'
Elev. gain: 1150m = 3,772'
Ascent time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
Descent time:2 hours, 25 minutes
Difficulty: Hiking to start, easy/moderate scrambling on SW side.
Location: Kananaskis Country
Trail head: Chester Lake parking lot off Spray Lakes Road.
Topo map: 82 J/14 Spray Lakes Reservoir

front view
From the trail head, I followed a moderate incline up old logging roads, passing by the oldparking lot, until a footpath was reached. The narrow twisting trail ascends through spruceforest for about 15 minutes. The trail then levels off into flowering meadows and my firstglimpses of Mt. Chester ahead on my right. It took me 1h 20m to reach Chester Lake (2220m/7281')from the trail head (310m in 5.5km/1015' in 3.4mi). I then backtracked to assess thelower slopes leading to the col (to the right of the picture).

chester col farFrom afar, the gully looks far more steep and intimidating that it really is. A standard routeto the Mt. Chester Col is straight up the broad gully. However, much of this gully was stillfull of snow. A trail can be seen on the far right but at the time I did this ascent, itwas very wet and muddy. I decided to scramble my way up to the left of the gully between thetwo upper snow fields. This is a moderate to steep ascent over mainly grassy slopes on thelower section. As you reach the top of the ridge, above the col, frequent hand holds areneeded but the ground is firm with many slabs to speed progress at this point. As I toppedout, another party of two, who had gone up the snow in the gully using ski poles, was just above me.

ck on summitOnce the ridge is reached, I took the quicker route by ascending the many slabs leadingto the summit. Mountain sheep were on the summit when I reached the ridge. A few minutesafter starting this final section, a large rock was knocked loose by the sheep and headedin my direction!. Fortunately, it broke into smaller pieces but one piece came within 40to 50 ft! About 10 minutes from the summit, a light rain started, making the slabs a bitslippery. I reached the summit @ 12:45pm.

summit viewThe summit offers a panoramic view although on this day it was hampered by heavy cloud cover.A register is located in the summit cairn. I noted that Alan Kane had been there July 19/96.At 1:50pm, I began my descent from the summit. Since there had been a light rain on theway up, I decided to head for the scree on the descent rather than tackle the slippery slabs.Even so, descent was slow due to very loose scree. I also encountered some unfamiliar terrainthat I had bypassed by scrambling up the grassy slopes.

summitOnce the col is reached, a quick glissade down the snow field in the gully gets you to thebottom quickly. From there, it's an easy descent back to the trail head on the marked trail.About 15 minutes from the parking lot, the rain finally began.

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©1996 All images by Craig Knelsen. All rights reserved.

Created: Mar 14, 1998.  Revised: Nov 12, 2002.