Mt. Sparrowhawk

Climbed: August, 1996.
Elevation: 3121m = 10,237'
Elev. gain: 1350m = 4,428'
Ascent time:4.5 hours
Descent time:4 hours
Difficulty: Easy scrambling.
Location: Kananaskis Country
Trail head: 26.3km S of Bow River Bridge in Canmore.
Topo map: 82 J/14 Spray Lakes Reservoir

Mt. Sparrowhawk

Unknown to me at the time, the Sparrowhawk picnic area where one would normally parktheir vehicle, was blocked off from public use. A security guard told me that a film crewwas going to be using it in the near future. I never asked what film but my suspicion isthat it was for the "The Edge" starring Anthony Hopkins. I was unable to convince himthat I just wanted to park my vehicle there for the day -- I ended up parking beside the road.

Mt. Sparrowhawk is approached from the SW by two trails. The first can be founda few minutes after entering the forest. Turn right and follow the footpath whichwill take you around to the SW side of the rock spur where you emerge from forest cover.After making your way through a small gully and annoying brush, the way becomes easierwith moderate grassy slopes taking you up to the ridge at the base of the rock spur.

summit block

As you slog your way up tedious but stable scree and across a few snowfields, theentire summit block comes into view.

circle to the east

As you reach the summit block base, circle to the right on the south side, passinga repeater and small building, and then angle left to reach the eastern scree slopes.

East scree slope
A beaten path to the top is visible but loose scree will make it tedious.

Approaching summit
Just a few minutes before the top, the scree relents and you burst onto the summit.

CK on summit

A sizeable summit cairn, no doubt partly to block out the wind, holds a register.I noted that I was only the fourth party to reach the summit this year. I didnot encounter anyone (or animal) along the trail this day. I did this scrambleon the Friday (Aug 2) of a long weekend but a front was definitely starting tomove in. A strong chilly wind was blowing and a bit of rain made it an unpleasant lunch break.

summit view #1

summit view #2

summit view #3

Unless you have rope for a rappel, return the way you came down to therock spur. You can now retrace your ascent or descend at the rock spur down asteep talus slope. I took the steep slope. At the bottom, I made an error in my hasteto get off and and headed down a large drainage channel (had it been raining Idefinitely would not have chosen to do this). This was okay for about half an hourbut then a series of large dropoffs forced me to waste time backtracking to getto slopes beside the channel. After what seems forever, you finally reach forestcover. After about twenty minutes of bushwacking downslope, the Spray Lakes Roadfinally appears. I would not recommend going down the drainage channel althoughI was definitely not the first to go this route. A much better and fasterdescent would have been to go left of the channel over some slopes to reach themorning ascent trail.

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

Created: Jan 26, 2000. Revised: Nov 12, 2002