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)
Map: Google Maps
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 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.
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 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.