|Elevation:||2874m = 9,426'|
|Elev. gain:||650m = 2,132'|
|Ascent time:||5 hours (delayed by grizzlies)|
|Descent time:||3 hours|
|Difficulty:||Hiking to start, moderate scrambling on east ridge to summit.|
|Trail head:||Highwood Meadows parking lot off Highway 40.|
|Topo map:||82 J/11 Kananaskis Lakes|
A warning sign at the trail head indicated a grizzly sow with cubs was in the area. As aresult, I proceeded cautiously along the trail. A few minutes after the trail head, Ientered forest cover and began a steady moderate ascent. When I did this trail, it wasextremely muddy at this point although it had rained the night before. Being in forestcover, it may never really get dry. After about an hour, the grade relented and I emergedfrom well enclosed forest cover into bright sunshine. From this point on to the summit,there is little shade on this southerly exposed trail. As I made my way up the trail, Icame across fresh bear scat on the trail -- this got my attention! After passing a smallpond fed by a snowfield across the trail, I finally got a good view of the arch onMt. Tyrwhitt. At this point I encountered a grizzly sow with two cubs.
Due to the bear encounter, I was forced up high onto a slope to the left to get aroundthe stand of trees the grizzlies had disappeared into. I ascended moderate slopes andtraversed left to reach the rear of Tyrwhitt cirque. At this point, I got a pretty good heads uplook at the arch above.
At this point, I located the trail rising to Grizzly Col. A few snowfields added some varietybut this section was quickly completed. It had taken me 3 1/2 hours to reach the Col fromthe trail head. However, I was slowed by the grizzly warning and then the actual encounterwith the grizzlies.
After a well deserved break and surveying the somewhat unstable route above,I started my ascent up the east ridge. A good scrambling trail was easily followed. Hand holds wereincreasingly required the higher up I went. Progress was also somewhat hampered by the looserubble in my path. It would be wise not to follow directly behind any party ahead of you(however, I did not encounter anyone else on the trail). At about 30 minutes along, the backsideof the arch comes into full view.
After passing the arch, there is less loose rubble but hand holds are frequentlyrequired. I also found it easier to ascend in a crouched position due to thesomewhat unstable rubble on the "trail". A few minor "rubble slides" are inevitablycreated. Ascent from the col to the summit took me about an hour (excluding timespent at the arch). I arrived on the summit at 1:50pm. A summit register is located in the summit cairn. I recorded myascent on the bottom of the last page of the register. I then decided to take the registerwith me to which I dropped it off at the Alpine Club of Canada clubhouse near Canmore thenext day. I left my business card as a sign of my ascent and left a note about what hadhappened to the register.
After reaching the summit, I settled down to have lunch and then discovered that I hadleft it in the truck! Fortunately, I had some trail goodies on hand to tide me over. AlthoughI had encountered the grizzlies on the way in, I decided to return the same way ratherthan follow an alterate return route via the northeast ridge. Looking down from the summit,the descent looks rather ominuous. Due to the warm and sunny weather, I did not leave the summituntil 3:15pm.
A few minutes along the descent route, you can see that it is not as steep as it had looked.Descent to the col was slowed due to the loose rubble. I reached Grizzly Col at 4:10pm. Aftera small break, I quickly descended to the slopes above the trees where I had encountered thethe grizzlies.
At this point, my pace slowed dramatically as my lookout for the bears intensified.However, the bears were not encountered on the return. I reached the trail head at6:15pm at which point I spotted a moose grazing 100ft or so from the trail. As Imade preparations to leave the parking lot, a calf appeared. Apparently the motherhad decided that I was not a threat. There was no one else at the parking lot.
Back to my scrambles/hikes history.
©1996 All images by Craig Knelsen. All rights reserved.
Created: Mar 13, 1998. Revised: Nov 12, 2002.