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East Peak of Pasque Mountain
Kananaskis, Alberta
September 15, 2018

Our loop hike on the East Peak of Pasque Mountain turned out to be bittersweet. We enjoyed the ridgewalk to the summit and the colourful fall larches when we dropped down to a meadow, but we weren't prepared for the ordeal that followed. Instead of cruising through the woods on a good trail above Wilkinson Creek, we stumbled through a swath of devastation: logs, broken branches and wood chunks now replaces the forest. Nearly 2 km of trail are gone, wiped out by a vast cutblock. This recent development is not yet reflected in the guidebook or on Google Earth. Afterwards, I found trip reports showing the forest was still intact less than two years ago.

I got the idea of doing the East Peak after reading the route description in the Kananaskis Country Trail Guide. In 2008, Dinah and I climbed Pasque Mountain, the West Peak, but didn't do the horseshoe route which includes the East Peak. Now, along with Zora, we set our sights on the East Peak.

From the trailhead, we started up an old road. We hiked well up it before realizing we missed the turnoff. Easy to do, we soon found out, because there is no path linking the road to the trail. To reach the trail, hike 400 m up the road and drop down to the long meadow on your left. The trail begins at the end of the meadow. Look for flagging.

The trail eventually swings left then right, intersecting a cutline twice. Catching the cutline at the first intersection would have cut off nearly a kilometre of trail, but we missed it. The overgrown, deadfall-covered cutline doesn't stand out from the surrounding forest. But we found the second intersection and followed the cutline to the crest of the north ridge. We hiked up the lengthy ridge as it alternated between grassy and rocky sections. Along the way we passed larches turning yellow, but still a week away from full splendor.

Then we came to the summit. After a brief, easy scramble, we were atop of the East Peak. We were fortunate to find ourselves under blue skies as other peaks, shrouded in clouds, weren't so lucky. Then we hiked down the grassy west slope to the col where we picked up a good trail.

The trail gently drops to the valley below and disappears in a stand of larches. Continuing down, we came to a gully and followed it to the meadow. After crossing the meadow, we started along a brook while aiming for our next waypoint: the end of the Wilkinson Creek trail, the same trail we used to reach the cutline. But after hiking just twenty minutes, we found ourselves at the edge of a large cutblock with no trail and no sign of where to go to next.

We had a printout of the route with us and followed it as best we could. As we hiked through the wasteland, we looked for the trail at the edge of the forest. We did find it a couple of times but after travelling100 m or so we ended up back in the cutblock. The brief forest trails were actually more difficult to cross than the cutblock because of extensive deadfall. Eventually we came to the uninterrupted trail going to the second intersection. We came down the cutline shortcut and followed the trail and the road back.

The good news is that trail will be cleared. After the trip, I emailed Gillean Daffern. I told her about the destroyed trail section and sent a map and some photos. Gillean forwarded them to her contact at SLS (Spray Lake Sawmills). He replied:

I will definitely have a crew go in and slash this trail, I will also bring this up at the next staff meeting. I hope to have the trail cleared this fall before it is snow covered. If for some reason this is delayed the trail will be slashed next spring. I will inform you when the trail has been cleared.

KML and GPX Tracks


The north ridge of the East Peak of Pasque seen from the trailhead


After starting up the road, we unknowingly passed this point where we should have dropped down to the meadow on our left. The trail begins at the end of the meadow on the left side.


Starting up the trail at the end of the meadow


Soon after starting up the trail we passed trees painted blue


From the trail we got a glimpse of the ridge


Starting up the cutline


Large mushrooms like this one flourished everywhere


Dinah exits the cutline on the crest. Below is the cutblock we later hiked through.


Larches are beginning to turn. Behind is Ridge 735663.


The ridge starts off steep but soon relaxes


The High Rock Range appears in the background


Across the valley is the north ridge of Pasque Mountain


Hiking is easy up the gentle grade


The small, snow-covered bump on the right is the summit of Pasque Mountain


The summit of East Peak appears behind a false summit


Here and there we passed solitary yellow larches


Heading to the false summit. On the right is the col we later descended from.


We passed through a stand of larches on the ridge


Looking down at the meadow that we later hiked through (click for a larger image)


When the ridge crest became rocky and jagged, it was easier to hike below


Behind us, a thick mist appeared to be flowing down a mountainside


Mist also appears below Coffin Mountain

Isola Peak lies southeast


We made our way to the summit outcrop


A short climb brought us to the top


Standing on the summit

Mount Lyall


Dropping down to the col. The descent trail appears as a line in the snow.


We looked forward to hiking through the larches below


Plants displayed contrasting fall colours


The trail drops down gently


The trail disappeared when we entered the larches


Although not at their peak, the trees were nonetheless a welcomed sight


We dropped down to a gully and followed it to the meadow


Starting across the meadow


False dandelions still held their colour despite the onset of autumn


There were plenty of dead flowers too


After the meadow, we followed this brook until we found the trail


Starting down the trail


So far so good


Looks like a downy woodpecker


Entering the cutblock


We had to negotiate a lot of crap


This may have been the trail


A landslide wiped out the trail here


Trying to get over the mess


Don't know if this flagging marked the trail or not, but soon after we found the trail that took us back to the cutline


Coming down the cutline shortcut


Back on the road


82 J/2 Fording River

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