Grizzly Peak

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.

Overview

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.

Trail Head

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.

Grizzly Peak 1

After crossing the creek, we headed up the trail and through the trees to the base of Grizzly Peak.

Main Trail

The trail is in great shape as you come up from the highway. We traveled basically straight up the lower face of the mountain.

Grizzly Peak 2

The trail goes straight up to the rock band above, and then turns right to traverse around to the backside of Grizzly Peak.

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.

Grizzly Peak 3

Alisen (L) and Annette (R) hamming it up on the small rock band.

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.

Grizzly Peak 4

If you want more intense scrambling, then this is your route. It pops out on the other side of the ridge. If you’re not sure, then continue to the right to reach the col.

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.

Grizzly Peak 5

Making our way around the south side of Grizzly Peak. Mount Evan-Thomas kept us well entertained as we trudged up the scree slope above.

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.

Grizzly Peak 6.5

Mike working his way up the trail towards the scree above. The trail is straight up as it follows the rocky outcrops of Grizzly Peak.

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.

Grizzly Peak 6

The Grizzly Col is a massive open meadow. Grizzly Peak summit is on the left horizon. Behind me is the way to Mount Evan-Thomas.

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.

Grizzly Peak 7

The ground is changing from meadow to boulders.There are little rivers of trails that start and stop. We just picked our way up as many as 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.

Grizzly Peak 8

Annette’s photo of the non-concerned marmot.

The col to the summit is about 500 metres with not too much elevation gain as most of it was gained below the col.

Grizzly Peak 11.5

Annette making her way to the summit ridge.

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.

Grizzly Peak 9

The ridge narrows at the summit. Mike is bundling up so he can eat his lunch somewhat warm. We did have some snowflakes come down, but nothing stuck.

Grizzly Peak 10

Looking north from the Grizzly Peak ridge over to Opal South summit.

 

From the highway to the summit was 3 KM, 880 m, and 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Grizzly Peak 11

Looking south from the Grizzle Peak summit, you can see the park gates and the road to Kananaskis Lakes.

 

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!

Grizzly Peak 12

Annette did a beautiful job of capturing both the crumbling spires on Grizzly, and the cascading peaks in the background.

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.

Happy Trails!

Alisen

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

Map

Strava was not working properly today. I probably had my phone in battery save mode, which resulted in my stilted tracks. Still, you get the idea of the route heading around the south side of the peak. Ignore the return track that looks like we came straight down the ridge.

Profile

Again, not a great representation of the smooth elevation gain due to my phone being in the wrong mode, but you get the general idea of where it gets steep. In particular, around the 1.5 km mark we start up the backside of the mountain for most of the elevation gain.

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Posted in Adventures, Scrambling
6 comments on “Grizzly Peak
  1. Really fun read Alisen!

    I sure love to wake up to these treats!

    It was funny to see the self centered person named as “buddy” LOL

    Mike

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