Mount Indefatigable - South Peak
The scramble up the South Peak of Mount Indefatigable is on the more challenging side of scrambles, however the views of Upper Kananaskis Lake from the summit are unparalleled!
Take Highway 40 South from the Trans-Canada Highway for 63.4km. Turn right at the “Winter Gate” onto highway 742 and follow this 2.2km. Continue straight (passing the turn-off for Smith-Dorrien Trail) and continue for roughly 10.0km, turning left at the “Upper Lake” sign. Follow the road down the hill, and park in the far-left parking lot, known as Upper Kananaskis Lake Parking Lot.
|When to do|
July - September
Yes - On Leash
Older Children only
Out and back
The drive to Mount Indefatigable was a little ominous, since mixed precipitation overnight had many of the mountains sporting a fresh coat of snow and low cloud obscured many summits. However, when we arrived at the parking lot Mount Indefatigable was in full sun and had no new snow. With the weather forecast set to improve as the day wore on we figured we’d lucked out. As it turned out that luck lasted about one hour, at which time it started to snow heavily. We were about 400m below the summit at this point and chose to shelter in a thicket of spruce hoping it was just a quick squall, but by the time it started to taper off more than an hour later there were a couple of wet centimeters of snow on everything. We didn’t have much hope of summitting at this point, but we decided to press on for a little while at least.
As we slowly gained elevation on the very muddy and slippery trail it started to brighten up and about 30 minutes after leaving our shelter we reached the treeline and realized that the heat of the sun through the clouds was melting the new snow surprisingly quickly. We were now warmed up, but decided to continue slowly upwards to see if the rapid melting would continue and improve our chances of reaching the summit. While our pace was painfully slow, by the time we reached some minor scrambly sections below the south summit, the rocks had dried out nicely. Clouds still enveloped the actual summit and bits of snow still swirled by us, but the patch of blue sky was becoming clearer and larger and the solar radiation was now hot enough that we were down to just one jacket.
Cresting the summit ridge we were met with a cold and very strong wind, but with a weather contraption marking the “summit” just a short distance away along the broad ridge, we didn’t think the wind would be a problem. We reached it a few minutes later, but were surprised to see a higher point on the summit ridge perhaps 75m away sporting a cairn clearly indicating the “actual” summit. While a trail along the now narrow ridge was in excellent shape the exposure to the east was significant and the strong gusty wind made the traverse a bit unnerving. It was slow going, but we made it!
You can traverse to the North Peak, and make a return that way, but the weather for us did not make that a realistic goal. So, we returned the way we came.
This is a decommissioned trail due to frequent closures for bear activity when it was opened. The trail is still popular and easy to find, but you are in prime grizzly country so be bear prepared.
There is a phenomenal traverse from the South Peak to the North Peak if you are comfortable to make that journey!
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