Grizzly Peak is a phenomenal and easy scramble to start off the season. With an elevation gain of 800m, it offers views beautiful scenic views that start as soon as you get out of the trees. The trail can be considered as a steep hike which it most certainly is and provides a great workout for your legs. The ridge of the summit is a bit narrower than some other summits but there is still enough room to take a comfortable seat and take in the view of Kananaskis Valley, Elk Pass area and Opal Ridge with its infamous vertically tilted mountain peaks.
Although there is not a substantial amount of information located on the history of early explorers within the region, Grizzly Peak is named after Grizzly Creek that flows next to the mountain. However, Grizzly Peak is unofficially named and no records of how Grizzly Creek received its name can be found; it may be because of bears that frequent the area. We did learn that the Kananaskis area was named after Kananaskis River which in turn was named by John Palliser in 1858 during the Palliser Expedition. It was said that John named the river after a Cree that he had met.
Grizzly Peak is located in not only a beautiful, popular area but as well as in one that is enriched with history. The scramble is 4km south of the Fortress Mountain Ski Hill. Prior to Fortress Mountain becoming a ski hill, the 3311 acre land that it currently occupies was owned by several companies. In the 1970's and 80's, Aspen Skiing Company had ownership over the land. Prior to that, it was owned by the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies and the Banff Rail Company. Fortress Mountain Skill Resort is currently owned by Fortress Mountain Holdings Ltd headed by Joey O'Brien.
The area around Fortress Mountain has been rather popular for Hollywood movies. The movie Inception was filmed in there in early December 0f 2009 which is amazing to think about since the movie hosts such an exceptional cast! Most recently, The Bourne Legacy shot some scenes in the area and the crew and cast stayed at the resort itself. RV, Van Helsing, Brokeback Mountain, The Claim and many television commercials have also been shot and filmed around this area. It will be interesting to see what movies in the future will be filmed here as the area becomes more and more popular for its beauty.
Grizzly Peak Trip Log
To avoid having our jeep rear ended on the highway by a careless driver, we opted to park in the ditch a few meters north of Ripple Rock Creek that runs under the highway. You will notice two trails that start on the north side of the creek heading towards Grizzly Peak (east). Follow the higher trail as the one that follows the river leads you through brush and trees at times.
Nearly from the get go the view opens up behind you. This allows for a beautiful thing to ease your mind as you head up relatively steep sections.
In this picture you can see how steep the terrain is leading up to the scrambling section. It continues at this angle for the most part until the trail traverses later on.
This is the only scrambling portion that requires any hand holding. The top half of it is a little on the skinnier size but it should not pose too many difficulties if you make sure your hand holds are nice and solid. We went up this way with the trail but if you dont feel comfortable, there looks to be a few easier spots to the north a bit.
Once again as you go higher, the trail keeps rewarding you with an amazing view. From the scrambling portion you should follow the single track as it heads towards the summit cliffs and then veers' right following the direction of the creek below and traversing the slope.
If you see a view below you like in the picture to the right, you have gone too far up and gone off the trail. In Kane's book, he refers to heading up to the summit cliffs before traversing so in midst of our conversation, we walked off in the dirt/rock track in the trees where it starts to turn. With the amount of people that have done this trip in the past few years the trail is a pretty beaten in single track from start to finish; meaning that if you don't see a trail beneath your feet, you have joined us in walking off route.
When you are traversing you will come across a fork in the trail. As you can see by the elevation printout at the bottom of the page, there is a difference. If you go left the trail gains minimal elevation but after a couple hundred meters it ends and your left having to slog up a very steep grassy slope. If you go left and follow the rock, the trail takes you over a few rocky dirt sections but keeps a steady incline. You can see this on the accent in our elevation print out, a very steep line. Whereas on the decent we took the other path and it was a gradual way without and sharp drop.
The trail then reaches the bottom of a small runoff you have to head up. If you follow the right edge, there are small switchbacks and trails in the dirt to make it easier heading up. The scree then makes a speedy way down.
Once you're at the top of this slope the steepness does not end. Instead you are treated to a beautiful view of mother nature to help you along.
A short traverse gives your legs a short break before you go through the trees and see the larger slope you have to head up to reach the pass.
From this point if basically just heads up till you reach the summit. Small switch backs help to ease the gradient. When we did this scramble there was still sections with at least a foot or two of snow. This made finding the switchbacks rather difficult and on the large slope rather foolish to try and follow. There was a beaten path in the snow that we followed up that ignored all the hints of the switchbacks and just bee lined to the top.
The rest of the trail leading to the pass and summit is relatively easy. Once you see the pass your almost there. The switchbacks should lead you towards the pass. Once there, it is a quick walk to the summit. Due to all the snow we can't say for sure where the trail actually leads. Either way the ground should not pose any challenges.
The summit is the long ridge you saw from the highway with the highest point being right around the center near where you come up. There are a couple narrow sections which might test your fear of heights. But none the less a very beautiful area to enjoy from the top.
This is what Grizzly Peak looks like from a less then perfect day. Even with a brief narrow walk to the summit ridge, you can still enjoy the expansive view in all directions.
Return is the same way and enjoy the view.
GPS Plotted Route
The red route is the way to the summit and the green route is the decent. Flag marks the portion that you scramble over the rock band. As you can see by the red route we somehow managed to lose the trail and continued heading towards the summit cliffs before traversing. With this scrambling gaining in popularity there is a pretty well beaten single track that runs the whole way to the summit, so if you notice your heading up a hill side... your off route.
Around the three quarter mark you see the trails split. As stated in the trip report, left is the trail you want to be on. If you go right the trail ends and you have to hike up the grassy hillside.
Once again the extra hump is the accidental deviation we made. At about the 2.4km the graph shows a very steep line. This is how steep the hillside is if you take the right path in the fork and have to walk up the hillside. If you stay on route the whole time, your accent should look like the decent in the graph. Short yet steep.
Click here to download the GPS route in GPX format. You may have to right click and select "Save Link As" if your browser does not download it automatically. Be sure to save it as a .gpx file.
What were your experiences scrambling Grizzly Peak?
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