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Kananaskis Peak

Summit Elevation (m): 2419
Elevation Gain (m): 1000
Round Trip Time (hr): 6
Total Trip Distance (km): 8
Quick ‘n Easy Rating: Class 3/4 – You fall you break something or die.
Difficulty Notes: A fall on the crux would severely injure or kill so take necessary precautions. Likely more difficult in the winter conditions we had.
Technical Rating: SC7; YDS (3rd)
GPS Track: Download
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On Saturday, January 7 2011 I joined Raf, Wietse, Marcel and Greg for a front range scramble up Kananaskis Peak in (this will be hard to fathom), Kananaskis. Why were we scrambling instead of skiing? I’m not sure, to be perfectly honest. Maybe it was all the avalanche fatalities over the past week or maybe it was the spring-link weather that Calgary has been getting, but I was more in the mood for a scramble and obviously so were the other 4 guys so that’s exactly what we did!

Kananaskis Peak Route Map

Kananaskis Peak is not normally done in winter. There are a few reasons for this including the fact that it’s more difficult than some surrounding summits like Wasootch and Baldy and the fact that there are no trails to its summit make things interesting on the approach in winter. We were expecting some snow in the approach gully but I think we got slightly more than we bargained for after about 4 inches of fresh stuff fell the night before. We decided that to avoid as many difficulties as possible we would ascend the “easy” descent route as ice or snow on the normal crux would render this beyond a scramble.

Just like I did for GR338442, I led the group up the Wasootch Peak trail in order to gain height on a well-defined track and stay out of the creek bed as long as possible. Once we traversed into the creek bed things got much tougher. Greg and Marcel led most of the knee to waist deep trail breaking up the creek and eventually we were looking up at some rather nasty looking scree slopes to the high col of Kananaskis Peak.

Looking more like an alpine climb than a scramble from this angle! Marcel comes up the crux just before the summit.

I led the way up the scree slope, trying to trend climbers left and ascend some bits of ridge that were poking out of the scree. This part was still rather miserable but not difficult. From the col I turned left (east) to ascend the final bit of ridge to the summit. In the summer this would be moderate scrambling but with snow and some small cornices just before the summit this felt almost alpine. The blasting wind didn’t help!

Summit panorama looking east includes Wasootch and Porcupine Ridges, Baldy, Midnight, Midday, Boundary and Tiara Peak.
Looking west and north (R) includes Kidd, Ribbon, Sparrowhawk, Allan, Wasootch, Lorette, Barrier Lake, Baldy.

Summit views are amazingly good for a front-range peak and we enjoyed the view for as long as we could stand the chilly west wind. 

The descent was fast and mostly without incident, save for Wietse’s knee acting as a bouncing board for a rock. A great day out with great company. I really enjoyed this one.

Kananaskis Peak
Ascending the Wasootch trail with a nice view opening up behind us already.
Ascending the Wasootch trail with a nice view opening up behind us already.
After descending to the creek things got a bit tougher.
After descending to the creek things got a bit tougher.
After descending to the creek things got a bit tougher.
After descending to the creek things got a bit tougher.
Mount Kidd looks very impressive once we get past the waterfall and start gaining some height in the creek bed.
Mount Kidd looks very impressive once we get past the waterfall and start gaining some height in the creek bed.
Slogging it out in the drainage.
Slogging it out in the drainage.
Mount Kidd looks very impressive once we get past the waterfall and start gaining some height in the creek bed.
Mount Kidd looks very impressive once we get past the waterfall and start gaining some height in the creek bed.
The boys follow me up the creek, so to speak!
The boys follow me up the creek, so to speak!
Ribbon Peak is calling my name!
Ribbon Peak is calling my name!
We are trying to get to the end of this gully where we will turn climbers right up the scree gully.
We are trying to get to the end of this gully where we will turn climbers right up the scree gully.
Wasootch Peak in the background. We were stuck in the shade and wind on some loose scree. Awesome times... ;-)
Wasootch Peak in the background. We were stuck in the shade and wind on some loose scree. Awesome times... 😉
Looking north from the top of the scree slope. Wasootch is in the center and the summit is to the right.
Looking north from the top of the scree slope. Wasootch is in the center and the summit is to the right.
The scrambling part starts just east of the col.
The scrambling part starts just east of the col.
The final bit to the summit was trickier with snow and a small cornice.
The final bit to the summit was trickier with snow and a small cornice.
Looking back down the summit ridge. McDougall at left.
Looking back down the summit ridge. McDougall at left.
Wasootch Creek at lower left.
Wasootch Creek at lower left.
Looking more like an alpine climb than a scramble from this angle! Marcel comes up the crux just before the summit.
Looking more like an alpine climb than a scramble from this angle! Marcel comes up the crux just before the summit.
Summit panorama looking east includes Wasootch and Porcupine Ridges, Baldy, Midnight, Midday, Boundary and Tiara Peak.
Summit panorama looking east includes Wasootch and Porcupine Ridges, Baldy, Midnight, Midday, Boundary and Tiara Peak.
Looking over Nakiska and Mount Allan to Mount Lougheed's four summits.
Looking over Nakiska and Mount Allan to Mount Lougheed's four summits.
Looking west and north (R) includes Kidd, Ribbon, Sparrowhawk, Allan, Wasootch, Lorette, Barrier Lake, Baldy.
Looking west and north (R) includes Kidd, Ribbon, Sparrowhawk, Allan, Wasootch, Lorette, Barrier Lake, Baldy.
Raf and Wietse come up the summit ridge. McDougall looms in the background.
Raf and Wietse come up the summit ridge. McDougall looms in the background.
Raf and Wietse come up the summit ridge. McDougall looms in the background.
Raf and Wietse come up the summit ridge. McDougall looms in the background.
Raf and Wietse come up the summit ridge. McDougall looms in the background.
Raf and Wietse come up the summit ridge. McDougall looms in the background.
Raf just before the crux. A slip would be fatal here to either side.
Raf just before the crux. A slip would be fatal here to either side.
Raf and Wietse on the summit.
Raf and Wietse on the summit.
Wietse says that Marcel stepped out of a 1975 MEC catalog! I think his bright colors are awesome for winter photography!
Wietse says that Marcel stepped out of a 1975 MEC catalog! I think his bright colors are awesome for winter photography!
Wietse says that Marcel stepped out of a 1975 MEC catalog! I think his bright colors are awesome for winter photography!
Wietse says that Marcel stepped out of a 1975 MEC catalog! I think his bright colors are awesome for winter photography!
Wietse is about to introduce his left knee to a hunk of rock courtesy the two guys above him.
Wietse is about to introduce his left knee to a hunk of rock courtesy the two guys above him.
Looking down the scree gully.
Looking down the scree gully.
Heading back into the access drainage.
Heading back into the access drainage.
In the access drainage.
In the access drainage.
In the access drainage.
In the access drainage.
The narrow section of creek bed canyon is a bit tricky to get through in winter. The waterfall is opposite us here.
The narrow section of creek bed canyon is a bit tricky to get through in winter. The waterfall is opposite us here.

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