Mt Kananaskis Pinnacles
Date Walked: 31st March 2015
Distance: 3.3 miles (5.4km)
Actual Ascent: 2618ft (798m)
Time Taken: 3.5 hours
I set out today to climb the G8 summits which stand beside highway 40 overlooking Kananaskis Village, parking is by the roadside and I was unsure of the location so it was useful that someone had already parked there and set out before I arrived. Unfortunately the 2013 floods washed through this area and eliminated the trailhead, what remains is a forest floor covered in river cobbles, having left the maps and GPS at home due to the 'easy' nature of this location I suddenly found myself guessing at a direction.
After crossing the bouldered forest floor I ran across a well defined trail and made the assumption that this was the route in, after all, what else could it be.
After a while I hit the side of a canyon and vaguely remembering my guide book which said to follow the stream and stay left of it I thought I was doing OK. A few snow showers blew through and the wind started howling as I wandered along beside the canyon.
It was a really nice walk beside the canyon and I was reluctant to leave it as the walls steepened to near vertical cliffs. Up ahead I saw a nice pointed peak that I knew wasn't the one I was after today and I remembered my guide book saying to make to the left so I cut into the forest at a sharp turn in the canyon.
I climbed through dense woodland totally covered in deadfall at a steep angle continuously cursing the lack of trails. I kept trying to head to the left but another canyon steered me back onward and upward, I couldn't even find an animal trail to help me round that damn deadfall. As I reached an open rocky outcrop and looked back over the forest it was pretty clear that I was off route and unable to reach the G8 summits from my position so I decided to keep on going upward to take a closer look at that peak I'd seen earlier on.
After plenty more thrashing around I found myself at the foot of a that huge lump of rock, there's clearly no route here but there is a notch in the wall that reaches down from the top. I decided to scramble up to the top of the gap and take a look to the other side.
To reach the notch in the wall I scrambled up a scree slope (left hand image) and then turned up beside the old dead tree and climbed a deep gully to gain a view to the other side of the mountain. (right hand shot)
Initially I was blocked by a protruding outcrop and felt a little exposed on the narrow ledge as the wind howled around me, to top it off another snow shower moved in and cooled the air.
I scrambled up the protruding rock seeking a way through only to find myself on top of a narrow pinnacle and cut off from the rest of the mountain, which is always a sickener as you feel you wasted all that effort as you have to retrace your steps.
The view from the pinnacle did allow me to see behind the hill and I saw a long scree slope heading up the northern flank. I tucked in tight to the pinnacle and worked my way around the side and onto a snowbank before making the scree slope and some level of comfort once again.
I scrambled up yet another pinnacle as the snow encircled me and after grabbing a shot I tucked into a hollow, zipped up the jacket and hood and sat watching the snow go by for 10 minutes.
As the storm weakened I left my comfortable hollow and pressed further on toward the summit where I could see some blue sky in the distance. At one point I found myself on another pinnacle with snow on one side and sunshine on the other, both sides were still incredibly windy (I later found out the wind was up to 90 kmh (55mph) ....no wonder I was being buffeted about).
As I reached the final rocky pinnacle I found the cairn awaiting, liberally sprinkled with orange lichen adding a lovely colour to the narrow top...there would be no sleeping up here today...there's hardly room to lay down :)
The little summit sits proudly amongst it's towering neighbours, to the north I can see the G8 summits which I had started out to ascend today and yet another damn snow shower coming along.
Behind me to the southwest is the steep nobbly ridge I picked my way along to reach this final pinnacle. Directly west is the ugly scar of Nakiska Ski Area and in the gap between lies Kananaskis Village (though to call it a village is something of an exaggeration)
That lump behind me bathed in blue sky is Mt McDougal which has a couple of summits and ultimately leads round to the G8 summits on a long ridge with some hefty scrambling along the way.
This is the entirety of my little summit and it's short outlier to the north, as you can see another two good squalls are moving in from the south and west, the wind is still howling and there'll be no hanging around up here today.
The ridge from the G8 summits heading around to Mt McDougal, perhaps I'll have a go at that when I make a hike to the G8's but I suspect it will need a long day to complete.
I make a foray onto the little outlier to enable a shot to the southeast showing the length of Mt McDougal and as I do so I am literally knocked sideways by the wind howling up the mountain behind the pinnacles
I return to the summit and make one last image of the view from there showing the G8's, Nakiska and the Kananaskis Valley below before I gather my belongings and get out of there with dark skies approaching.
I got through the steep and dodgy scrambling sections before the clouds arrived but when they did it was a good downpour of snow at high level which soaked me as I forced my way through the deadfall covered forest, at lower levels it turned to rain ensuring I was drenched when I got back to the truck.
It was only when I got home that I could look up the lump of rock and work out where it was I'd ended up today, I really enjoyed the steep scramble and I've still got the G8's for another day, I also learned a valuable lesson about taking my maps and GPS even on the shortest of jaunts, so all in all it was a good day :)