Summit Elevation (m): 3180
Trip Date: Sunday, July 26 2020
Elevation Gain from Mosquito Creek Parking (m): ~1900
Time from Mosquito Creek Parking (hr): 9
Distance from Mosquito Creek Parking (km): ~22
Reference Trip: Upper Martin Creek
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something.
Difficulty Notes: A pretty easy hike to the summit, even with snow on the SW ascent slopes. The crux on Kentigern is getting there.
Technical Rating: SC5; RE4/5
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps
Mount Kentigern has been on my radar for at least a decade since reading of Rick and Graeme’s trip on bivouac.com. It sounded like an easy trip, the issue was always how much effort and time it would take to get to it. I came close in 2013 but was one valley north for Recondite Peak. In 2019 I was even closer but chose to ascend Clearwater Mountain instead from a Devon Lakes camp before exiting to Mosquito Creek. After spending a good deal of time and energy crossing the undulating, hot and buggy Siffleur meadows, Phil and I dropped our heavy packs at the stream coming out of the bowl between Mount Kentigern and Clearwater Mountain. Since the weather was perfect and we had the energy we decided it was a much better idea to summit Mount Kentigern on approach rather than egress from the Upper Martin Creek valley. On hindsight this was certainly true! The ascent slopes looked very easy and indeed they were. We started up grassy slopes to the SW edge of the west face heading up towards a large patch of snow.
Our views were stunning as we ascended easy scree. We started counting all the ponds and tarns opening up behind us under the steep east walls of peaks like Watermelon and Bobac but we quickly decided there was too many to count. (Ok, there was around a dozen or so. )
Originally we were going to avoid the snow on ascent and choose it on descent but we quickly changed our minds when we got to it and Phil graciously kicked steps upward. I had warned Phil earlier that based on my Clearwater Mountain experience the summit would be much higher than it appeared and this was indeed the case.
As we finally approached the summit (2 hrs up from the pack drop) our views only improved. The weather was incredible and even more amazing – there was no haze from humidity or smoke. It’s been a long time since we had a high pressure system like this in the Rockies – at least when I’ve had time off. We spent some time marveling at our clear views in every direction – we could see at least 2 dozen 11000ers and likely more. Finding Rick and Graeme’s register from 1996 and realizing we were the first to sign it since then was very cool and started the trip on the perfect note for me.
We enjoyed the views and the perfect weather conditions for about 30 minutes before reluctantly turning back down to the Siffleur Meadow far below. Time was slowly slipping away from us at this point in the day and we had to keep moving. It’s funny how this happens on some trips, especially longer ones. On day trips Phil and I always seem to have plenty of time but on longer ones such as this one and McConnell Creek we start noticing that things are taking much longer than planned and time seems to conspire against us towards the end of the day. This might have something to do with biting off slightly more than we can chew, but who knows really?
Descent went very fast and easy, especially down patches of snow and scree. Soon we were back near valley bottom which we followed in late afternoon sun to our large packs. It was a struggle to find motivation to hike back up into the bowl between Clearwater and Kentigern and especially up the 400 loose meters of scree to the 2800m col but we didn’t really have a choice at this point. Kentigern will go down as one of my easier remote peaks – the payoff is knowing that very few folks bother with this lofty summit, thereby granting a unique view from one of Banff’s more remote spots.