Elevation: 2785 m
Elevation Gain: 1100 m
The origins of the name “Crowsnest” are the subject of some debate. While some believe that the name is a reference to a massacre of Crow Indians by Blackfoot Indians near the present site of Frank, the more common explanation holds that George Dawson named the peak (and various other features in the area) based upon a (mis)translation of the local Cree name (ravens nest). The steep cliffs which give Crowsnest Mountain its characteristic appearance are the result of a geological feature known as the Lewis thrust which forced the older rocks of the summit over the younger rocks that form the peak’s base. These steep cliffs lend a foreboding air to the peak and created the impression that its ascent would be “impossible”. Drawn by the challenge, illustrious mountaineer Edward Whymper (who was the first to reach the summit of the Matterhorn) sent a reconnaissance party to the area in 1904 to scout for a route to the summit. Lacking patience, this party failed to wait for Whymper and completed the first successful ascent of the peak in 1904. News that his men had successfully summited without him as alleged to have “greatly displeased” Whymper.
September 8 2011
I said I would return and here I am again. After two previous failed attempts on Crowsnest Mountain, I was keen to finally claim its summit. Both of my previous attempts had come earlier in the season and, in both instances, I was turned back by ice-covered technical sections. With the early September forecast calling for 30 degree heat on this day, I was certain that I wouldn’t run into that particular obstacle again!
The highway-side view of spectacular Crowsnest Mountain.
The Seven Sisters in the morning light.
The crux gully: significantly less choked with ice than during my previous 2 attempts! When ice-free, the scrambling in the gully is very enjoyable and moderate (thanks to a fixed chain near the top). Unfortunately, this north-facing aspect often holds the snow and ice late into the season.
Without ice to stop me, I finally made it to the summit ridge!
At long last, Crowsnest is mine!
There were 2 register containers at the summit: 1 containing a register and the other containing a make-shift register flag.
Does this count as defacing the flag? If so, woops.
Signing the register proper at long last. The whole solo ascent only took me 2 hours and 2 minutes and thanks to an alpine start, I was spared the worst of the afternoon heat.
Turtle Mountain in the autumn haze.
Crowsnest Lake and Sentry Mountain to the south.
The Seven Sisters is (are?) really the scenic highlight of the summit view.
Mount Tecumseh to the west.
Nothing but prairies and a long drive home alone to the east! Better get at it! I was supposed to be home in time for dinner!
Back down at the car, looking at the ascent route on Crowsnest’s north face. Thank God for dry conditions!