Elevation: 3121 m
Elevation Gain: 1350 m
Mount Sparrowhawk, like many other Kananaskis peaks, was named after a WWI battleship involved in the battle of Jutland. All told, 6 ships have borne the name HMS Sparrowhawk. To the best of my knowledge, only 1 mountain has been named after any of them. Although once touted as a potential location for downhill ski events at the 1988 winter Olympics, you will not find any chair lifts here – only scree and for that we can be thankful!
August 11 2012, September 22 2011, July 25 2010
Ever since he saw the photos from my first trip up Mount Sparrowhawk 2 summers ago, Gord has been bugging me to take him up it so that he can bask in the stunning views of Kanananaskis offered at the summit. When I climbed Sparrowhawk solo amidst fall colors and fresh snow the following September, once again, I heard all about how I was supposed to take him up there. Well, I suppose good things come to those who wait and Mount Sparrowhawk is a very good thing (that must be why I keep coming back). Although the scramble itself is a slog initially, then little more than a plod and, finally, a slog again, the views are simply spectacular in every direction. It was, therefore, with the aim of finally sharing those views with Gord, that we set out early in the morning to take a stab at the peak. The lack of hands-on scrambling made the objective ideal for Crux as well, so he joined us to pad his summit count. Once on the #1 highway, I began to question our wisdom in selecting Sparrowhawk. EVERYTHING in the Bow valley was engulfed in thick cloud. We reasoned that we would, nevertheless, drive up to Spray Lake and take a look at the surroundings in the hopes of clearer skies there. As luck would have it, the skies around Spray Lake were much clearer and I knew when I caught my first glimpse of Sparrowhawk from the road that we were in for a good day!
Thick cloud hugging the summits of Mount Lougheed (left) and Mount Sparrowhawk (right).
The usual Spray Lake moose sighting near the trailhead. Kane instructs you to ascend the first drainage to the north of the Sparrowhawk parking area and not the drainage immediately south (despite the well-worn path along the latter drainage). Do NOT listen to him. Save yourself a thrash through the woods and take the path! Although the main path ends up at the Sparrowhawk tarns, there is a branch to the left about 10 minutes after the trailhead which switchbacks nicely (read: steeply) up to the base of Read's Tower. From there, the route is as Kane describes. I've climbed and descended both drainages and I won't be taking the Kane drainage again anytime soon!
Enjoying the scree together on ascent. This shot was taken shortly after passing the entire length of Read's Tower.
Looking south along Spray Lake towards the continental divide. Read's Tower now below.
Touch your tongue to your nose.
Gord slogging up the scree with a hazy Kananaskis range in the background. Although the scramble is, at this point, uninspiring, the scenery should keep you going!
Assiniboine coming into view in the distance beyond Mount Nestor.
Hello old friend.
Cloud clinging to the steep east face of Mount Sparrowhawk.
Getting ready for the final scree slog to the top. The route ascends on the right side of the large buttress on the left. I've found that the terrain closer to the base of the buttress is more solid that the loose scree a little further down.
1350 vertical meters from the car, Crux the dog summits yet again! Me too.
Mount Bogart engulfed in thick clouds which we thought that we had left behind in the Bow valley.
Views of the Memorial Lakes, the Bogart Tower and Ribbon Peak through breaks in the cloud to the east.
Gord finally bags Mount Sparrowhawk!
Stunning views of Spray Lake as always. This is one of my favorite views in K-Country - even with the haze that suddenly appeared on this particular afternoon.
Looking west along Spray Lake. Old Goat Mountain and the Three Sisters bracket the lake.
He's getting too big to pick up for these group summit shots.
Mounts Eon, Aye and Assiniboine through the haze.
The thing-a-ma-jig up top. Beautiful views of the Fortress (left), Mount Galatea (center with snow), the Tower (right) and massive Mount Sir Douglas (far right) beyond.
Crux found a goat on top! And of course, he had to chew it. Here, the goat's owner tries to restrain him.
A little more settled now...
The Mount Lougheed massif to the north. Lougheed II ascent route goes up the scree cone in the center, to the left of the waterfall and across scree to the right near the top. Looks steep.
Taking a load off on the summit.
Quality time with the "grandchild".
One of the prettiest views in K-Country.
Crux's new profile pic. Does Dogbook exist anymore?
Heading down...after several hours on scree, he didn't want to move off this small patch of moss.
Cool fossils on descent.
Back down onto grass! Only 600 vertical meters left to descend. Until next year Sparrowhawk!