Warspite, Mount

Trip Details
Attained Summit?: 
Trip Date: 
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Summit Elevation (m): 
Summit Elevation (ft): 
YDS Class: 
4th Class
Difficulty Notes: 

A fall on the crux would severely injure or kill so take necessary precautions.

Trip Report

Trip Report

After spending 2 weeks on a family vacation in Kelowna (and I mean my wife's whole family and their offspring - around 30 people!) I was ready for the serenity of a rarely climbed peak. Tuesday, August 14 2007 proved to be the perfect day for a mid-week scramble up Mount Warspite.

Wietse and I had been planning a jaunt up Mount Hector with an experienced local climber named Scott Berry. For some reason I felt very strongly that we would be unsuccessful on this venture and besides I've wanted to ski Mount Hector for a while already. On the morning of our departure I still insisted that we should change our objective if we wanted to successfully attain a summit.

After some deliberation, Scott suggested Mount Warspite. I've been interested in this peak for a while already and since it offered the chance for a two peak day (combined with Mount Invincible) I thought it was a perfect backup choice. Wietse was disappointed in the change of plans but since he was out voted he decided to play nice and agree to the change. Such a nice guy eh? :-)

Some mountains actually have a more memorable approach trail than the actual scrambling or climbing, and according to me, Mount Warspite is one of these peaks. The hike up to tree line and to the base of the scree ramp is simply gorgeous. Even if you don't desire to scramble up to the peak, you owe it to yourself to check out the sublime alpine valley above the lower lake and below the upper one. On the way down we spent over an hour just lounging around, listening to Scott's infamous avalanche tale (you'll have to ask him - it's an AMAZING story of survival) and soaking up the afternoon sunshine and smell of wild flowers. I have never seen so many flowers on a hike before, so if you're into flowers don't forget that macro lens, like I did. I'll be back some day with that lens!

The scrambling bits on Mount Warspite are nothing to look forward to. Like many other Rockie's scramble routes, it's mainly a scree bash with very little hands-on scrambling. I tried to stick to snow on the approach ramp to the col between Black Prince and Warspite and this was a good choice, I think. I would recommend climbing this mountain when there's a bit more snow - it would be much more enjoyable but possibly a bit more advanced if the snow was hard (crampons) or too loose (avalanche). As a matter of fact, we all thought that Warspite did not deserve a 'difficult' rating when dry. Maybe Kane did this peak with snow on it but other than really loose rock, it's upper 'moderate' at most.

So why do you want to scramble this pile of loose choss? Because the approach hike is awesome and the views from the top are simply stunning. From Joffre in the south to Sir Douglas to the west the view includes the impressive Royal Group and many of the Kananaskis Lakes and Spray Lakes mountains.

It turns out that our decision to abandon an attempt on Hector was a good one. When Scott and I suggested the traverse over to Invincible, Wietse admitted he had a nasty stomach ache and we had to abort the traverse. We will be back to do it some day, because in all honesty that looked like the most entertaining part of the day. It also looked very doable to attach Invincible from the mining road that Kane mentions, as a day trip on its own. I'll let you know how that one goes when I get around to it.

A young grizzly crosses the road at the junction of highway 40 and kananaskis trail.
The lower meadows on the approach to the headwall leading to the upper valley is still beneath the morning cloud cover.
The morning cloud starts to dissipate as we get higher and higher.
Some dramatic views across the top of the clouds filling the spray valley.
Wietse and Scott grunt up the horrible scree on the way to the Warspite / Black Prince col.
A stunning view opens up once you ascend a good part of Warspite's south side towards the Kananaskis Lakes.
The Spray Valley range includes peaks like Tent Ridge, Lawson, Inflexible, Chester and Galatea among many others.
This view towards Mount Sir Douglas also reveals Mounts Robertson, French, Jellico and Smith Dorrien along with the Haig Glacier and the Black Prince tarn.
Vern, Scott and Wietse on the summit of Mount Warspite.
A close-up view of Mount King George and Prince Albert.
Mount Joffre shows up in this telephoto from the summit of Mount Warspite.
A close-up of Mount Sir Douglas shows the couloir route isn't in shape right now.
A classic shot of the Royal Group with Northover Ridge in front of them. If I keep getting shots like this of these mountains I'm going to have to climb them some day... :-)
Summit panorama (click to view full size).
Wietse and Scott descend the southwest ridge of Warspite.
A view of the traverse over to Mount Invincible (third bump along the ridge). If you look carefully you can see the mining road bumping up against the north descent ridge of Invincible.
Scott finds an awesome viewing platform on the way down.
This is why the mountain is rated 'difficult'. It's loose and somewhat exposed.
Wietse and Scott on the final section of the upper ridge just before coming back down to the Black Prince / Warspite col.
The ascent route as seen from the col on the way down. You can spot the two towers that Kane mentions in the upper left of the picture.
Did I mention the flowers?! There were a lot of them!
Warspite Cascade is a calming diversion on the beat back down the trail.


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