|Elevation:||2670m = 8,757'|
|Elev. gain:||1000 m = 3,280'|
|Ascent time:||4 hours to N summit, 1 hour traverse to S summit|
|Difficulty:||Strenuous hiking to moderate scrambling.|
|Trail head:||North Interlakes parking lot.|
|Topo map:||82 J/11 Kananaskis Lakes|
A bear warning, a grizzly sow with cubs, at the trailhead warranted a cautious start througha brief section of coniferous forest beside the lake. After about 20 minutes of lung gaspingascent, an open escarpent on the east side of the mountain provides a chance for a break and a placeto snap off a few pictures of the south summit and surrounding area.
A wide path makes a no nonsense approach straight up until a spur trail to thesouth summit is reached in about an hour. Since my objective was the north summitwith a traverse to the south summit, I ignored the spur trail and continued on foranother 10 minutes to reach the end of this main trail marked by a sign. A woodenbench provides a convenient rest spot for taking in views of the Opal Range. Ifollowed the spur trail through larch forest and reached an alpine tarn in about 1/2 hour.
The trail rises to the east summit ridge which I reached in 2 1/2 hours from the trail head.Not only does it provide a convenient spot to rest and take in the view but also allows youto ponder your approach line to the north summit.
Unfortunately, some of the effort expended to reach the east summit ridge isnow wasted in order to continue to the north summit. I descended along theeast ridge to grassly slopes leading to the ascent gully. Due to the foreshortened view at this point, I went a little far to the right and was forcedto do some difficult downclimbing to get back to the line leading into the ascentgully. I reached north the summit @ 1:30pm where a register in the summit cairngives you the opportunity to record your accomplishment. I had not seen anyoneon the trail since earlier in the morning (they were going down) but noticed afew figures down in the alpine tarn and on the east summit ridge at this point.
The north summit, higher than the south summit, provides a panoramic view although there isnot much maneuvering room on the top. While eating lunch, you can look at the north/southtraverse ridge to see if it's to your liking or not. It actually looks far more unnerving thanit really is.
A majority of the first half of the traverse is simple hiking although care must be takendue to the narrow path and the precipituous drop on the east side. There are a few exposed sections, however they are brief and can usually be skirted by descending to scree on the west side. I did however find one section where I decided a descent down the exposedeast side preferable to the west side. Others may find the west side more palatible afterspending more time finding a suitable route. After that, a bit more scrambling is involved asthe ridge begins its ascent back up to the south summit. I completed the traverse in an hour-- although the guide book says it could be done in 1/2 hour, this mountain was my firstserious moderate scramble so I was quite cautious. On the south summit, you are quite likelyto encounter several people who ascended the easier trail. A bit of care needs to be takenon the initial descent down this "easier" trail but there are no real difficulties.
Back to my scrambles/hiking history.
©1994 All images by Craig Knelsen. All rights reserved.
Created: May 13, 1998. Revised: Nov 12, 2002.