It has taken a couple of days for my body recover from a fantastic hiking and mountaineering challenge – The Kananaskis Alpine Traverse with Dave, Nick, Duncan and Karen. What a great physical and mental challenge we had! We endured weather, long days, and big packs. To start the trip off we started our hike with heavy packs and hiked up to Three Isle Lake where we set up camp in the rain and snow.
After we ate one of Brian’s delicious meals we crawled into our warm dry tents for the night to see what mother nature would give us the next day. Waking up at 6:00 am it was still snowing and blowing – ahhhhh… July in the Canadian Rockies!
We decided to stay put for the day since we needed to have good weather to traverse Northover Ridge to Aster Lake. This area is stunningly beautiful so to enjoy the area we did a day hike up to Beatty Pass. This was a good decision because it snowed all day and we made our packs lighter for the Ridge walk by eating a days food.
On day three we woke to almost clear skies and a fresh blanket of July snow on the alpine peaks. As soon as we gained the col from Mt. Worthington onto Northover Ridge, the cloud set in and we had a long challenging day navigating the ridge in a whiteout. Just as we made our way over to the col where we descend into Aster Lake, the clouds lifted and we had a nice 300m bum slide down the mountain side. This was well deserved for our tired legs!
We hit camp at Aster Lake after a nine hour day. The forth day revealed blue skies making us excited for a summit attempt of Mt. Joffre. We charged right up to the North Face of this classic 11,000 footer. The conditions were just right for us to step kick our way up to the summit. But as we were just cresting the 11,100ft level the summit disappeared into the clouds and unfortunately stuck to the mountain. Given the time of day and the fatigue level of us all, we made the decision to turn around.
A true summit success was not registered but it sure seemed liked the top of the world from our vantage point. Then on our last day we hiked out to the trailhead and reentered civilization anticipating a warm shower and cold beverage. However, it was nice to feel remote and removed from the hustle of the Bow Valley during the summer time. This beautiful area of Kananaskis is rarely travelled given the long days and heavy packs required to carry all food, camping gear and mountaineering equipment for 5 days.
If you are looking for a physical and mental challenge, this hike may just be for you. It is not a walk in the park. This trip is one of our most physically demanding adventures and is recommended only for experienced hikers who are very fit and used to carrying heavy packs. The mountaineering is not technical but when combined with big travel days my hat goes off to those who power through this mountain adventure.