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Mount Sarrail
Kananaskis, Alberta
August 14, 2005

Phil Schreiner was lucky to be allotted five of the 100 peaks for the Alberta Centennial Mountain Expedition in 2005. Dinah and I, in turn, were fortunate to have him invite us to do one of them: Mount Sarrail, peak 61.

Phil along with his three teenage daughters and his nephew, Paul, would do it as a three-day trip while Dinah and I gave ourselves a day to summit Mount Sarrail. Originally, Phil's daughters were to accompany us to the top but in the end, only Phil and Paul joined us. This was a good decision as Mount Sarrail is a bit more challenging than the "pleasant hike" that Alan Kane suggests.

Dinah and I hiked along the Upper Kananaskis lakeshore trail, a good path although it seemed to drag on forever. Before setting off I had set a waypoint for the turnoff and we used it to guide us to the unmarked crude trail leading to Aster Lake. This trail immediately led to a tiny meadow and minutes later we were on the south shore of Hidden Lake. The water level was low enough for us to hike along the shore although it was muddy in some spots.

From the lake, a short, steep trail leads out of the woods onto a scree slope. Soon after passing the upper waterfall, Mount Sarrail appears. We left the trail where it drops down to cross a gully and we angled toward the lower slopes of the mountain. After stumbling up the loose rock we managed to gain the ridge.

On the ridge, we noticed there were three people ahead of us. One of them was coming down and we intercepted him. It had taken him four and a half hours to summit starting from the car (it took Dinah and I six hours). The other two guys turned out to be Phil and his nephew Paul and they were going up. We weren't able to catch up to them but they waited on the summit for us.

Once on top we went through the formalities of bagging Mount Sarrail as a Centennial Peak. It was exciting to play a part in Alberta's Centennial, even if I was doing only one peak to Phil's five! Phil handed out flags and pins and we all signed the new register.

After striking a group pose at the summit cairn for the camera we headed back down. At the bottom of the ridge, Phil and Paul turned left onto the trail to return to their Aster Lake campsite. Dinah and I turned right and hiked back to the parking lot. For them, it would be a twenty-minute hike but for us nearly three hours!

MOVIE (posted on YouTube)
KML Track


Two grizzly cubs follow their mother (barely visible) across the highway

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We came across these juvenile grizzlies while driving to the trailhead


Hiking along the shore of Hidden Lake


Looking south from the north end of Hidden Lake

On the trail above Hidden Lake with Mount Indefatigable in the background


Passing a waterfall


Crossing the gully next to Mount Sarrail. The summit is on the left.


Mount Cordonnier and Warrior Mountain above Aster Lake (click for a larger image)


The summit was always in sight: there are no false summits!


Following a narrow section of the ridge

One of two short downclimbs


Expansive views behind us


The glacier abuts the ridge near the summit

Another view of the glacier abutment. Mount Cordonnier and Warrior Mountain in the background.


Heading to the summit


Celebrating an Alberta Centennial Summit


Centennial register for Mount Sarrail (mouse over for a close-up)


View from the summit as we head back. Aster Lake lies below.


Negotiating the glacier abutment on the return

Although rated "easy" I thought there was one moderate scrambling section on the ridge


Looking back at the summit


82 J/11 Kananaskis Lakes

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