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Burstall, Mount

Summit Elevation (m): 2760
Elevation Gain (m): 950
Trip Time (hr): 3
Total Trip Distance (km): 11
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 4 – you fall, you break something or worse
Difficulty Notes: The crux is exposed and a fall will kill you – only do if dry and confident.
Technical Rating: SC7; YDS (4th)
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps


After scrambling Mount Pilot and Brett the day before and driving all the way to Elkwood campground in Kananaskis I was ready for a shorter and easier day. I chose to finally do Mount Burstall since it had been on my radar for a long time already.

Mount Burstall Route Map

There is no magic to getting this peak. Make sure you’re far enough up the trail before venturing up the valley – you should be on a faint trail the entire way. When I did this peak there was an obvious cairn and some flagging. I’ve read of people venturing up the climber’s right side to access the col but this is usually regretted by those who attempt it. The terrain is steeper and more exposed than it looks from below. I went on the rock rib that you see between the two black scree slopes and this worked really well.

I was surprised by the loose and steep terrain after the col. This is certainly a difficult scramble with no room for error pretty much from the col to the summit. I thought the crack was safer than a lot of the terrain that proceeded it simply because I didn’t feel like I was going to slip out of the solid rock in the crack!

Panorama north and west includes, Leval, White Man, Vavasour, Snow, Warre, Eon, Birdwood, Pig’s Tail, Smuts, Commonwealth, Tent Ridge, Commonwealth Ridge, Fortune, Nestor, Engadine, Tower, Galatea, Gusty and Fortress.
One more pano includes Burstall Lakes, Hogarth Lake and Mud Lake – and Mount Chester at far right.

The summit was nice but with a rain cloud heading my way I felt a little rushed the whole time I was on Burstall.

My round trip time was just over 3 hours and it did end up raining just to the east – and you really don’t want rain on this little peak. Great views from the top and interesting scrambling with a very short round trip time – I highly recommend this peak to competent scramblers.

Mount Burstall
The lower route goes through a meadow / avalanche path - this is off the bike approach already.
The lower route goes through a meadow / avalanche path - this is off the bike approach already.
The faint trail leads you through a short stand of trees and onto an avi slope where you can see up to the col.
The faint trail leads you through a short stand of trees and onto an avi slope where you can see up to the col.
Looking back towards Commonwealth Peak and Ridge (R) over the Burstall Ponds.
Looking back towards Commonwealth Peak and Ridge (R) over the Burstall Ponds.
Fall colors are coming out as I work up to the col.
Fall colors are coming out as I work up to the col.
Mount Birdwood.
Mount Birdwood.
Views to the south from the col include CEGFNS, Murray, Smith Dorrien, French and Robertson (L to R).
Views to the south from the col include CEGFNS, Murray, Smith Dorrien, French and Robertson (L to R).
A trail leads up from the col to the summit ridge.
A trail leads up from the col to the summit ridge.
Great views over Burstall, Hogarth and Mud Lakes (L to R) at Commonwealth Peak and Ridge, Nestor, Engadine, Tower and Galatea (L to R).
Great views over Burstall, Hogarth and Mud Lakes (L to R) at Commonwealth Peak and Ridge, Nestor, Engadine, Tower and Galatea (L to R).
Steep and loose terrain above the col.
Steep and loose terrain above the col.
Summit views are sublime in every direction. This is looking north at Snow, Birdwood, Pig's Tail, Smuts and Commonwealth Peak (L to R).
Summit views are sublime in every direction. This is looking north at Snow, Birdwood, Pig's Tail, Smuts and Commonwealth Peak (L to R).
Great view to the south includes, Robertson, Sir Douglas and Whistling Rock Ridge (L to R).
Great view to the south includes, Robertson, Sir Douglas and Whistling Rock Ridge (L to R).
Leval, White Man, Vavasour, Snow, Warre, Eon, Birdwood, Pig's Tail, Smuts, Commonwealth, Tent Ridge, Commonwealth Ridge, Fortune, Nestor, Engadine, Tower, Galatea, Gusty and Fortress.
Leval, White Man, Vavasour, Snow, Warre, Eon, Birdwood, Pig's Tail, Smuts, Commonwealth, Tent Ridge, Commonwealth Ridge, Fortune, Nestor, Engadine, Tower, Galatea, Gusty and Fortress.
Vern on the summit of Mount Burstall.
Vern on the summit of Mount Burstall.
One more pano includes Burstall Lakes, Hogarth Lake and Mud Lake - and Mount Chester at far right.
One more pano includes Burstall Lakes, Hogarth Lake and Mud Lake - and Mount Chester at far right.
Looking down the upper crux.
Looking down the upper crux.
Downclimbing the crux.
Downclimbing the crux.
The lower part of the crux crack - don't slip here!
The lower part of the crux crack - don't slip here!
Mud Lake at left and Galatea, Gusty, Fortress, Chester and James Walker (L to R) across the Spray Lakes road.
Mud Lake at left and Galatea, Gusty, Fortress, Chester and James Walker (L to R) across the Spray Lakes road.
Looking over Burstall Pass towards Talon, Leval, White Man, Vavasour and Snow Peak.
Looking over Burstall Pass towards Talon, Leval, White Man, Vavasour and Snow Peak.
Telephoto over Whistling Rock Ridge to Talon and Soderholm.
Telephoto over Whistling Rock Ridge to Talon and Soderholm.
Gorgeous views over Burstall Lakes towards Spray Lakes. My descent route to the left.
Gorgeous views over Burstall Lakes towards Spray Lakes. My descent route to the left.
Looking down the Spray Lakes Road towards Nestor, Old Goat.
Looking down the Spray Lakes Road towards Nestor, Old Goat.
Flora
Flora
A butterfly.
A butterfly.

2 thoughts on Burstall, Mount

  1. (from Jan Triska)

    hello Vern;
    I’m coming up in July, to be precise the first ten days of July. Although I have some other, easier scrambles planned and am also signed up for s guided climb on Mt. Victoria, I figured I’d try Mt. Burstall or something of similar difficulty in the area.

    Would it, in your opinion, be too early? I am sensing that snow will linger for a long time this summer…and that Burstall needs to be quite dry.

    The other difficult scramble I’ eyeing is Compression Ridge…which one is more fun?

    thanks,
    Jan

    • Hey Jan,

      I’m hoping Burstall is dry by July, but it might not be. Burstall is a very short day compared to Compression. I liked both of those peaks but Burstall definitely has better views. Compression might be dry earlier though. Keep your eye on trip reports and I think you’ll get a good sense for snow cover by the end of June.

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