Summit Elevation (m):
Trip Date: Sunday, May 23 2021
Elevation Gain (m): 850 from camp along the Clearwater Trail
Round Trip Time (hr): 4 from camp along the Clearwater Trail
Reference Trip: 33 hours along the Clearwater River
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall you sprain something.
Difficulty Notes: A remote but fairly straightforward hike and scramble.
Technical Rating: SC5; RE5
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps
After waking up at our remote campsite along the Clearwater River, Phil and I made preparations to ascend the easy looking Sentry Peak. By 06:00 we were hiking up the Clearwater Trail through the eastern Banff backcountry towards our peak which looked nice and dry. Our plan was to hike up the Indianhead Pass Trail from the Clearwater Trail as it curved around to the open west aspect of Sentry. From there we hoped the route would lead easily to the small summit with big views. The Indianhead Pass Trail was obvious – although the sign at the junction was pretty much illegible. We followed old horse divots around the SW end of the peak before turning north and uphill to a low col. Just before the col we turned up grassy west slopes.
As we ascended the lovely, open west slopes of Sentry Peak our views up the Clearwater River valley were sublime in the early morning lighting. Mount Malloch, Mamen Peak and views back to Indianhead Pass kept us entertained as we slowly worked our way up to the distant high col just under the summit ridge. There was evidence of many sheep here – this would be ungulate paradise!
We were still feeling the effects of the day before – or anyway I know I was! – but as we finally crested the upper col just below the summit we received a giant bolt of energy from the incredible scene that presented itself down the Clearwater River to the east. Morning clouds combined with shafts of sunlight glistening off the river and reflecting from giant, snowy peaks combined into one of the more incredible visual experiences I’ve had in quite some time. We continued a short ways up an easy to moderate ridge before stepping onto the summit with views in every direction.
For descent we decided to try an open SW ridge to treeline and hope that the bushwhack down to the Indianhead Pass Trail wouldn’t be too awful. This route worked well and before long we were thrashing our way through some moderate bush and breaking back onto our approach trail.
Soon we were back at out camp and ready for the long trek back to the Cutoff Creek staging area.