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Fox, Mount

Summit Elevation (m): 2973
Elevation Gain (m): 1200
Trip Time (hr): 8
Total Trip Distance (km): 17
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 4 – you fall, you break something or worse
Difficulty Notes: The crux / ridge is certainly 4th class. Very loose and exposed sections make for a difficult scramble.
Technical Rating: SC7; YDS (4th)
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps


Since I had scrambled Mounts Pilot, Brett, Burstall and Storm over the previous 2 days I figured it was time for a short and easy mountain. I chose Mount Fox. Short? No. Easy? No. Oh well. FunYes! I was joined by Harvey, an active scrambler and hiker from Calgary who I was introduced to by Marta. Harvey met me at the Elk Pass trailhead at 0800 on Wednesday September 02 2009 and we were soon pushing (!) our bikes up the hill towards Elk Pass. I was looking forward to Mount Fox for a long time. Some people swore it was the hardest scramble in Alan Kane’s books while other dismissed it as ‘easy’. I knew it wasn’t going to be ‘easy’ but didn’t know what to expect, especially given my mental and physical state after a week of pretty intense peak bagging. (I’d also done TV, Fairview and Cascade the week before.)

Mount Fox Route Map

Harvey and I chatted and biked our way into Elk Lakes Provincial Park. It turns out that we have a lot in common and the bike ride flew by quickly. Harvey has done a lot of skiing in the area and that helped us stay on the right trails. After ditching the bikes we began the 3.5km hike into Frozen Lake.

Our objective comes into view – the ascent ridge is above Harvey and slightly right of him.

The hike was boring but the lake was gorgeous! It’s worth an outing simply to see this lake and it’s pristine surroundings. Once at the lake we could see our objective and it looked great! We accessed the ridge via steep grassy slopes and took a moment to don our helmets before heading up the 600 vertical meters of intense scrambling.

Mount Fox looms over Frozen Lake. The ascent ridge runs from the right side up to the left.

I thought that Mount Fox was on the same level of difficulty as Mounts Smuts and Northover but some people have found it to be easier. Maybe I was just tired? I’m not sure. The 600 vertical meters of ridge to the summit of Mount Fox felt more difficult than most other scrambles I’d done beforehand. The reason? There is absolutely no room for error on certain sections of the ridge. Other people have mentioned that the rock was solid but that makes me wonder if I was even on the same mountain as them! The reason there’s no room for error is that most hand / foot holds are NOT solid at all – even if they seem that way. There are some reasonably solid sections on the ridge and they are a lot of fun but the higher you go, the more loose and exposed the terrain becomes. if you don’t like the first 100 vertical meters you should turn around because that’s the easy stuff.

I’m not trying to exaggerate or scare anyone off this mountain but you should know that this is not a mountain to take lightly either. The scrambling is fun and the views are amazing but if you slip even once, it’s “game over”. Harvey led the way up the ridge quickly. A few times he went up terrain that I wasn’t sure we could down climb so I would check out alternate ‘side routes’ – and usually found them. We both mentioned more than once how much fun the scrambling was – especially at first when the rock was fairly solid.

Harvey completes an exposed move traversing out of the crux pinnacle. Mount Rae, Storm and Mist (R) rise over the Elk Range in the distance.

After coming to a slightly overhanging cliff band (only 3-4 feet high) the scrambling became even more exposed and difficult. I led the way through the infamous pinnacle and only briefly considered squeezing through the hole in it before descending the other side and traversing on a scarily loose and exposed ledge before regaining the ridge. Harvey followed my lead over the ledge – this should have been backed up with a rope and some pro because that ledge will not last for much longer and you don’t want to be the one on it when it fails!

Looking over The Turret towards the Kananaskis Lakes. Sarrail on the extreme left.

No other trip reports really mention the terrain after the pinnacle to the summit ridge and Kane simply calls it a ‘scree bash’ but I disliked this part – especially on the way down. Again, there is no room for error and the loose scree and slabby terrain conspire to throw you down the mountain with every step. The summit ridge is fantastic with great views – especially after the previous night’s rain storms cleared the air of smoke.

Opal Range (L) to Rae, Tyrwhitt, Storm, Mist, Storelk, Odlum, Aosta, Abruzzi, Nivelle, Castelnau Joffre, Petain, Foch, Sarrail Hermione, Indefatigable and The Turret (R).
Opal Range, Rae, Storm, Mist, Tyrwhitt, Storelk and Odlum rise over Fox and Frozen Lakes.

After a short summit stay we headed back down. It seemed to take a long time but we had great weather and slowly picked our way back down the ridge. The loose scree at the top of the ridge was some of the worst terrain and once over the pinnacle we enjoyed ourselves until finally off the rock again. We both agreed that Fox was a great scramble and I put it on my top 10 – Harvey wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment yet! 🙂

The hike out to the bikes was hot and the bike ride out was fast and fun – I love bike approaches! Our round trip time was around 8 hours. Fox is a highly recommended outing for people who are comfortable on steep, exposed and sometimes very loose terrain and LOTS of it!

Mount Fox
57 photos
First views of Mount Fox from the Fox Creek approach trail.
First views of Mount Fox from the Fox Creek approach trail.
Our objective comes into view - the ascent ridge is above Harvey and slightly right of him.
Our objective comes into view - the ascent ridge is above Harvey and slightly right of him.
Mount Fox looms over Frozen Lake. The ascent ridge runs from the right side up to the left.
Mount Fox looms over Frozen Lake. The ascent ridge runs from the right side up to the left.
Approaching the NE ridge.
Approaching the NE ridge.
Harvey on the steeply grassed slopes beneath the start of the scrambling ridge.
Harvey on the steeply grassed slopes beneath the start of the scrambling ridge.
Accessing the NE ridge.
Accessing the NE ridge.
Harvey is just visible starting up the NE ridge proper.
Harvey is just visible starting up the NE ridge proper.
Looking north off the ridge towards Kananaskis Lakes.
Looking north off the ridge towards Kananaskis Lakes.
The terrain gets more serious. You can not afford to slip here.
The terrain gets more serious. You can not afford to slip here.
Some detours are required to climber's left to avoid over hanging sections of ridge.
Some detours are required to climber's left to avoid over hanging sections of ridge.
Harvey tops out to a level section on the ridge with the Elk Pass region spread out beneath him.
Harvey tops out to a level section on the ridge with the Elk Pass region spread out beneath him.
Harvey comes through the infamous pinnacles.
Harvey comes through the infamous pinnacles.
Harvey completes an exposed move traversing out of the crux pinnacle.
Harvey completes an exposed move traversing out of the crux pinnacle.
Looking over the crux to the Opal, Highwood and Elk Ranges.
Looking over the crux to the Opal, Highwood and Elk Ranges.
Looking north off the ridge towards Kananaskis Lakes.
Looking north off the ridge towards Kananaskis Lakes.
Frozen and Fox lakes from the loose scree slope before the summit.
Frozen and Fox lakes from the loose scree slope before the summit.
Looking north off the ridge over The Turret towards Kananaskis Lakes.
Looking north off the ridge over The Turret towards Kananaskis Lakes.
On easy summit slopes now.
On easy summit slopes now.
Looking back along the summit ridge.
Looking back along the summit ridge.
Looking over The Turrent and north up Lower Kananaskis Lake.
Looking over The Turrent and north up Lower Kananaskis Lake.
Opal Range (L) to Rae, Tyrwhitt, Storm, Mist, Storelk, Aosta, Abruzzi, Joffre, Foch and Sarrail (R).
Opal Range (L) to Rae, Tyrwhitt, Storm, Mist, Storelk, Aosta, Abruzzi, Joffre, Foch and Sarrail (R).
Looking over the Opal Range on the left towards Cornwall and the front ranges.
Looking over the Opal Range on the left towards Cornwall and the front ranges.
Rae, Storm, Mist, Tyrwhitt & Storelk rise over Fox and Frozen Lakes.
Rae, Storm, Mist, Tyrwhitt & Storelk rise over Fox and Frozen Lakes.
Rae, Storm, Mist, Tyrwhitt & Storelk rise over Fox and Frozen Lakes.
Rae, Storm, Mist, Tyrwhitt & Storelk rise over Fox and Frozen Lakes.
The Petain Creek Valley with Aosta at left and Abruzzi (C),  Cordona, Nivelle, Petain at right.
The Petain Creek Valley with Aosta at left and Abruzzi (C), Cordona, Nivelle, Petain at right.
McCuaig, Nivelle, Castelnau (R).
McCuaig, Nivelle, Castelnau (R).
Nivelle, Castelnau, Joffre and Petain (R).
Nivelle, Castelnau, Joffre and Petain (R).
Nivelle, Castelnau, Joffre and Petain (R).
Nivelle, Castelnau, Joffre and Petain (R).
Joffre rises at right over the Petain Glacier.
Joffre rises at right over the Petain Glacier.
Joffre (L), Petain and Foch (R).
Joffre (L), Petain and Foch (R).
Foch and Sarrail (R).
Foch and Sarrail (R).
Foch and Sarrail.
Foch and Sarrail.
Incredible views over the Kananaskis Lakes with The Turret in the foreground.
Incredible views over the Kananaskis Lakes with The Turret in the foreground.
Looking over the Turret and Upper Kananaskis Lake to Mount Indefatigable, Invincible, Warspite, Nomad, Hermione Peak
Looking over the Turret and Upper Kananaskis Lake to Mount Indefatigable, Invincible, Warspite, Nomad, Hermione Peak
Telephoto over Putnik (L) and Nomad (R) towards the Haig Icefield with Sir Douglas in cloud.
Telephoto over Putnik (L) and Nomad (R) towards the Haig Icefield with Sir Douglas in cloud.
Harvey comes up to the summit of Mount Fox.
Harvey comes up to the summit of Mount Fox.
Harvey comes up to the summit of Mount Fox.
Harvey comes up to the summit of Mount Fox.
Harvey comes up to the summit of Mount Fox.
Harvey comes up to the summit of Mount Fox.
Vern and Harvey on the summit.
Vern and Harvey on the summit.
Kane and Thorsteinsson in the register.
Kane and Thorsteinsson in the register.
Heading down loose terrain on the NE ridge.
Heading down loose terrain on the NE ridge.
I thought the upper part to the summit was very loose but others find it easy so I think I was just tired at this point - looking back on descent.
I thought the upper part to the summit was very loose but others find it easy so I think I was just tired at this point - looking back on descent.
Descending the crux notch.
Descending the crux notch.
Descending the crux notch.
Descending the crux notch.
Descending the crux notch.
Descending the crux notch.
Descending the crux notch.
Descending the crux notch.
Descending the crux notch.
Descending the crux notch.
Back on the lower NE ridge - still a "no slip" zone.
Back on the lower NE ridge - still a "no slip" zone.
You have to stay sharp on this terrain - one slip and it's "game over".
You have to stay sharp on this terrain - one slip and it's "game over".
You have to stay sharp on this terrain - one slip and it's "game over".
You have to stay sharp on this terrain - one slip and it's "game over".
Back on the lower NE ridge - still a "no slip" zone.
Back on the lower NE ridge - still a "no slip" zone.
Frozen Lake - Elk Pass in the background.
Frozen Lake - Elk Pass in the background.
Harvey's mean face after getting down the hard stuff.
Harvey's mean face after getting down the hard stuff.
A nice vantage point to take a breather - Lower Kananaskis Lake in the distance.
A nice vantage point to take a breather - Lower Kananaskis Lake in the distance.
A last look up the NE ridge to the summit of Mount Fox.
A last look up the NE ridge to the summit of Mount Fox.
A calf moose on the way out along Fox Creek.
A calf moose on the way out along Fox Creek.

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