Mount Chester

Elevation: 3054 m
Elevation Gain: 1100 m
Part of the Kananaskis Range, Mount Chester was named in 1917. The WWI cruiser HMS Chester was severely damaged during the battle of Jutland in 1916. Outnumbered four to one by enemy ships, HMS Chester’s gun crew were all killed during the battle; all but 16 year old Jack Cornwell, who despite being severely wounded, continued to man his post. This eventually allowed the HMS Chester to retire from the battle, saving the lives of many of the crew aboard. Jack succumbed to his wounds two days after the battle. He was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously.
My Ascents:
September 16 2012, July 24 2011, July 28 2008

Ever since I proposed to my lovely fiancé, Sunday September 16 2012 had been circled on our calendar. This, of course, was the day that the Bridal Expo was scheduled to be in Calgary. It was with great excitement, therefore, that I invited my dad and my soon-to-be father-in-law to join me on a scramble that day in order to escape the mothers’ and the bride-to-be’s gushing over dresses, table arrangements and all varieties of other wedding-related things that make men cringe. My own father scrambles with me often, however, I had not yet had the pleasure of taking her dad up a peak in the Canadian Rockies. Based on a scramble that he and I completed in Arizona last winter, I was confident in his abilities so I decided on Mount Chester as an objective. During previous outings on Chester, I have found the view to be among the finest in Kananaskis and have always felt that the hands-on scrambling above the col was a blast. What better way to break in a new father-in-law?

September scrambles mean an early and, usually, cold start. Here, Gord finds out that poles are only useful on approach if your hands don’t freeze while holding them!

The objective towering above scenic Chester Lake.

From Chester Lake, we crossed the log bridge at the outlet stream and followed a well-trodden path that splits off to the right from the lakeshore path after a minute’s walk. This path leads quickly to a dirt/scree slope which is ascended to a col below Chester’s south ridge. The hike up to the col is a grind, however, the view behind steadily becomes more spectacular. It is, therefore, important to stop and admire it frequently! Here another party slogs up the scree while we catch our breath at the col.

The F.O.B. and F.O.G. admire the view from the col. Behind them, the scramble route up Mount Chester looks somewhat daunting.

The south-facing grassy slopes on the other side of the col and the view down the Smith-Dorrien valley.

A group of impressive rams well below on the grassy slopes.

The view of the British Military Group from the col is nearly as breath-taking as the steep scree slope that leads to it. From left to right: Mount Murray, Mount French, Cegnfs Peak (foreground), Mount Robertson and Mount Sir Douglas.

Mount Robertson and larger Mount Sir Douglas bracket the Robertson glacier across the valley.

A group ahead of us on typical terrain. While it may look intimidating from below, none of the scrambling on Chester is exposed and the holds are excellent. I can see why this peak is a personal favorite of Kane’s!

Gord and Gary work their way up a rock band near the summit of Mount Chester. The col where the last photo was taken from now appears several hundred meters below.

Topping out on Chester.

Gary enjoys his first summit in the Canadian Rockies.

The continental divide beyond an impressive summit cairn.

Glaciated Mount Joffre pierces the southern horizon.

Joffre in the distance.

I'll never get sick of this view!

Smith-Dorrien panorama. From left to right: Mount Birdwood, Mount Smuts, the Fist (foreground), Mount Eon (distant), Mount Aye (distant), Mount Shark, Tent Ridge (foreground) and, of course, Mount Assiniboine. Click to see larger.

Scenic Mounts Eon, Aye and Assiniboine.

The sexiest highest mountain in the southern Canadian Rockies.

Gary takes in the view.

Chester Lake at the feet of the Kananaskis Range. Beyond the lake, Gusty Peak lies in front of Mount Galatea, which in turn is in front of the Tower. Spray Lake and Mount Assiniboine in the distance.

Colorful Chester Lake far below.

Enjoying a nicer day than when we last summited several years ago! The first time that Gord and I climbed Mount Chester, the skies were overcast. After a moment or two on the summit that day, we noticed sparks jumping between the rocks at our feet. Needless to say, our stay on the summit that day was brief!

Both nearby Mount Sir Douglas and the more distant Mount Queen Mary are stunning peaks.

This beats the pants off of the Bridal Expo!

Always great to share a summit with the old man - although I think he missed Crux on this one...

The Headwall Lakes below Mount James Walker in the valley to the east.

Kananaskis panorama. Click to see larger.

Looking up the spine of the Kananaskis Range. From left to right: Old Goat Mountain (distant and sharp), Mount Engadine, The Tower, Mount Galatea, Mount Lougheed (distant), Mount Sparrowhawk (distant), Wind Mountain (distant and sharp), Gusty Peak, Mount Bogart (distant) and South Kidd.

Flat prairies beyond the Fortress.

Looking south down the Smith-Dorrien valley towards the Kananaskis Lakes and Highwood Pass beyond.

Distant Highwood Peaks: Mounts Rae and Mist. Storm Mount in there somewhere too. Jagged peaks of the Opal Range in the foreground.

Group (soon-to-be family) summit shot.

What goes up...

Gary and I approach the col on descent. Still amazing views of Mount Smuts, the Fist, Mount Shark, Tent Ridge and Mounts Eon, Aye and Assiniboine beyond.

Looking towards Spray Lake from the col.

Three jets crossed paths on our way down, perfectly framing Mount Galatea in their vapor trails.

Leavin' on a jet plane...

Back down at the lake. Looking way up at Galatea and Gusty now.

Diggings all around Chester Lake. Someone's been busy...

Looking back at Mount Chester in the improving (read: fading) evening light.

Beautiful alpine meadows just past Chester Lake.

Evening light over Mount Birdwood. Looking forward to many summits with both dads in the future!