The North Kent Outlier is officially a small unnamed ridge on the west side of the massive Kent Ridge in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Kananaskis Country. With less than three kilometers to gain over 700 meters it can be a potentially quick trip if in good shape. The slope on the ridge does pose an avalanche risk, so be sure to check the current avalanche report for Kananaskis. Route finding is not particularly challenging due too the short distance in the trees but be wary of going to far past the point of gaining the ridge as the gully between the outlier and the Kent ridge is a serious avalanche hazard with large cornices above.
On a clear day the view is exceptional and with a low popularity of the peak in winter, chances are you won't see to many strangers along the way once you leave the Sawmill trail area. This, for most of us, is a great peaceful time to enjoy the rushing wind as snow blows in your face and you managed to get sunburned to boot. Sounds exciting, doesn't it. At the end of the day I would recommend doing this peak and would do it again as well.
North Kent Outlier Trip Log
The Trail starts off at the Sawmill parking lot. The true summit of the North Kent Outlier is not actually visible from the parking area, what you see is in fact the many false summits you will come across on your way up. Once parked head east from the outhouse onto the signed snowshoe trail.
There are a few trails that leave the parking lot, the trail that you should be on looks as if its going towards the smaller peak to the right of the Kent Outlier. There will be a small orange snowshoe sign in the distance if viewing it close to the parking lot.
Soon after you start it goes uphill and will stay going uphill until the end. It follows the summer trail until you start gaining the ridge which means that in winter, it is not very popular. Upon reaching the junction it was very hard to tell that right is the way you want to go besides a small bend in the shadows as they help highlight the small indent in the snow as new snow has hid the tracks quite well.
As the trail heads up hill it follows the summer trail to the ridge that is visible as a dotted line on the map at the bottom of this page. Due to the amount of snow I managed to lose this track a few times and ended up bush whacking up a few steep slopes instead before getting back on the actual trail. The actual trail does a long switch back and makes the elevation gain a little easier but longer.
Once you clear the trees you get your first glimpse of most of the false summits you will come across on your way up the outlier.
As you gain the ridge the safest place to walk would be along the edge near the cornices. The slope does pose a substantial avalanche hazard as its wide open and fairly steep. Be aware of where the cornices do end so you are not walking on air as on this day they were of substantial size.
On your way up you will come across a couple false summits, the terrain gets a bit steeper then it already is upon reaching them but then drops back to just simply being steep between them.
As you near the summit the ridge levels out and it's a mere stroll to the summit of the North Kent Outlier. With the increase of wind up here there was not much snow left in terms of depth but instead a nice layer of ice covering the majority of the ground. There were also a couple goats that wanted to share the summit but luckily they buggered off as I approach them.
Once at the summit you are presented with a gorgeous 360° panorama of the surrounding area. The first clear and sunny outing in awhile made this especially rewarding.
Return the same way.
GPS Plotted Route
The dotted line on the map beside the GPS track is the summer trail. As you can see it goes further out making one more switchback that I missed and just cut straight through.
Short and steep is what describes this profile. Only about 2.9km to get to the summit from the parking lot of Sawmill.
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 snowshoeing North Kent Outlier?
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