June 29, 2018
Grizzly Peak is a fun scramble that has been greatly improved by the excellent trail from the highway up to a scree band. I first read about Grizzly Peak in the 2003 edition of Scrambles, but it took me some years to get out here. It looks like there may have been some ground slumping that wiped out the trail at the scree band, so some route finding and side-sloping is required.
Grizzly Peak is along the same line of mountains as Opal North, and Opal South, so it is a worthy objective despite its short distance. Grizzly Peak is not to be confused with Grizzly Ridge which is located further south at Highwood Pass.
From the highway, start climbing up, and then around the face the mountain. Cross the scree band, being careful to not go too far to the right, as you gain the col. From the col, turn left and begin the climb up to the ridge. Right before the summit, the ridge narrows.
From Highway 40, find Ripple Rock Creek on the east side of the highway. It is south of the Fortress Gas Station, and north of the Peter Lougheed turnoff. Park on the east side of the road. There is a little beaten down area so you can get off the highway.
The trail starts on the north side of the creek. Once at the trail head, start heading up through the trees.
The trail is in great shape as you come up from the highway. We traveled basically straight up the lower face of the mountain.
At about the 1 km mark, we came to a small rock band. This was the only hands-on-rocks that we did, although there is an option for more later on.
Once through this, we headed around to the south side of the mountain. This is to avoid the vertical face of the mountain above and make our way to the easier side.
Once around the south face of the mountain we began to climb again, this time in earnest as the contour lines got closer together. The trail here was great, as it lead up a grassy slope with a fine view of Mount Evan-Thomas to our right.
Above the trail is a series of rock formations. Had I known about the screen mess above, I might have been tempted to take this route up. Next time.
Unfortunately, a few hundred meters above this point in the photo above, the trail was wiped out by slumping. I thought it might have happened during the 2013 floods, but Spirko makes no mention of it in his 2014 trip report. Regardless, it’s there, and you have to make your away up and across it without much trail. Be careful to not be drawn too far to the right. This makes for a longer trip to the summit once you reach the col. No one in my group took a single photo of the scree, which shows how unimpressed we were with it.
The col is absolutely gorgeous. Despite our day threatening to rain and snow, it was an amazing view. We got a good look at the Mount Evan-Thomas approach, and could look across at the Opal South summit.
From the col, which is around the 2.5 km mark, we turned west and made our way up the backside of Grizzly Peak. At first it was alpine meadow, but then it quickly changed to strewn boulders. There was no real trail up through here, so we picked our way as best we could.
Along the way, we met a curious marmot. She kept a keen eye on us, yet wasn’t in any hurry to sound the alarm or move away as we trudged up the mountain beside her.
The col to the summit is about 500 metres with not too much elevation gain as most of it was gained below the col.
The views up here were amazing, despite our cloudy day and it beginning to snow. For those coming from abroad, yes we did this trip in the middle of summer, and yes, it can snow at any time. It pays to pack those mitts and toques.
From the highway to the summit was 3 KM, 880 m, and 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Grizzly Peak Return
We returned to the highway the same way we came up. However, we did get some new views, including this great shot looking down onto King Creek Ridge. I remember being on that ridge, and looking across at Grizzly Peak, wondering how to get up here. Now I know!
The fourth member of our group was really struggling to get down the steep scree slope below the col, so our descent time is longer than usual.
Grizzly Peak is a fun, easily accessible scramble with great views of impressive and much harder mountains. If you have any questions, or if you did Grizzly Peak recently, please leave a comment and let me know the conditions. If you have a photo of that scree section, please also let me know.
Totals – Tracked on Strava
Date: June 29, 2018
Group: Four (Alisen, Mike, Annette and buddy)
Distance: 6 KM
Elevation: 880 m (2,904′)
Time: 4 hours 57 minutes