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Cat Creek Hills
Kananaskis, Alberta
May 14, 2011

Having done many of the peaks surrounding Cat Creek Hills, it only seemed appropriate to climb the highest point of Cat Creek Hills itself. And the southwest ridge appeared to be the best route since extensive open sections along the ridge should be clear of snow in the spring.

But there were drawbacks. Since the area is home to a large number of elk (we saw two herds), we had to watch where we stepped as well as check ourselves for ticks. (Indeed, afterwards I found one of the little suckers feasting on my belly, probably attracted to the post-trip pizza I had.) Also we had to park at the seasonal gate at Highwood Junction and walk 3 km up Highway 22. But those drawbacks didn't deter Sonny and Dinah from joining me.

We walked up the highway and once we passed the creek that drains between Junction Hill and Cat Creek Hills, we started up a ridge. We soon realized, however, that this was a low intervening ridge. After dropping down the other side to an old road, we found the correct ridge. (We should have followed the left bank of the creek after leaving the highway.)

Once on the southwest ridge, we had only to follow the crest. We hiked along scenic grassy sections and went up and over two high points. There were plenty of vistas on the open ridges, of course, but the high point in Cat Creek Hills – the summit – was partially treed, confining views to the east.

On the way back we saved ourselves some effort by skirting the high points on the south side. As we walked back along the highway, we encountered cyclists taking advantage of the highway closure. And at the gate we noticed several parked cars, some for cyclists but others for hikers going up Junction Hill. But although Junction Hill attracts more hikers, Cat Creek Hills holds the best attractions.

Sonny's Trip Report
KML and GPX Tracks


From the highway: the first and second high points (centre). The summit is hidden.


On the road, approaching the start of the ridge. Junction Hill on the right.


Ascending the ridge


A deer pauses to watch us


Mount Armstrong sets the backdrop


Looking back down the ridge


As we head to the first high point, the second high point appears on our right


Mounts Strachan, Muir and McPhail in the centre (mouse over for a close-up)


It was easier to travel on the snow (mouse over to look back)


After reaching the first high point we head to the second. Partway up
is a herd of elk (mouse over for a close-up).


Starting up the second high point


Looking back at the first high point


Midway we hit a wall


Dinah and I scrambled up the wall while Sonny went left around it


An elaborate cairn marks the second high point


On the second high point


Panorama from the second high point


Sonny pauses below me on our way to the summit (centre, treed)


Post-holing to the summit


Arriving on the open ridge before the summit


On to the summit


On the rocky ridge that leads to the summit, Sonny stops to look around (mouse over to back up)


On the highest point of Cat Creek Hills. Cat Creek Ridge far right.


Lunch on the open slope


Post-holing back


Using an animal trail cut into the south side, we avoided going over the second high point


82 J/7 Mount Head

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