Mount Storelk (recon)
August 22, 2006
Sometimes I run into problems in my searches for new approaches and this is a good example. I didn't want to try a solo attempt up the difficult, exposed east slopes of Mount Storelk so I decided to try the gentler west slopes instead. This required a long bike approach but being unfamiliar with the biking trails in the area, I made a poor choice.
The West Elk Pass Trail and the East Elk Pass Trail appeared to be the same length, but I opted for the east trail since it starts 100 m higher. Although the east trail is designated for skiers, I figured it was just a poor logging road and assumed I could handle it. Indeed, it started well and even when I ran into a bog I thought it would be short-lived. As it turns out, much of the 4.9 km section is under water! Without going into detail of my ordeal, the East Elk Pass Trail shouldn't be hiked let alone ridden.
After sloshing up the trail dragging my bike, I reached the junction where the east and west trails join a road that heads down the south side of Elk Pass. Thankfully, I could easily ride this road. After reaching the Elk River Service Road, I continued cycling south until Mount Storelk came into view.
I knew I would run out of time and energy if I attempted the mountain, so I didn't try. My turn-around point was actually 100 m lower than my start point! I had biked 18 km and I wanted to avoid the east trail on the return trip even though doing so would take 30 km.
I took the west trail to Elk Pass parking lot. From there I followed the paved road to Boulton Creek, losing elevation in the process. On the final leg up Whiskey Jack Trail I had to ride uphill back to my car. Including small navigation errors, I cycled 50 km. I hadn't done such a long ride in years, so I was bone-tired and sore by the time I reached my car.
The best bike approach for the west side of Mount Storelk is obviously the East Elk Pass Trail. Even so, this would be a 35-km ride. In general, it means gaining 250 m going up the pass, and then losing 300 m to reach the base of Storelk. After that, it's an 1150 m climb up the mountain. As bad as it sounds, I heard that it's been done!
I stopped on HWY 40 to take photos of this coyote
To my amazement it started howling. It was still
howling when I drove away.
The trail up Elk Pass started off well ...
But then I ran into a soggy mess
At the top of the pass I was able to ride for a couple hundred metres
This is no place for a bike!
Under the grass was water
I had to laugh when I saw this sign
Looking back toward the pass, I think that's Mount Pocaterra on the right.
On Elk Pass the trail is a big improvement!
Mount Storelk obscured by a smoke haze from forest fire
Thanks to my brother John for identifying this varied thrush
82 J/11 Kananaskis Lakes and 82 J/10 Mount Rae