The Turret
Kananaskis, Alberta
October 10, 2010

After ascending The Turret I didn't know whether I was endeared to it or if I merely endured it. The summit view of Kananaskis Lakes was breathtaking, but the bushwhacking and the slog to the summit were lengthy.

I was drawn to The Turret after seeing reports on the Internet, notably Soistheman's web page. Dinah and I loosely followed his route; ours differed in that we hiked farther up the trail before leaving it, and at the treeline we took a more direct route to the summit.

We followed the Elk Pass Trail 2.6 km before leaving it, probably 200 m past the point where Soistheman exited. (After studying the terrain on Google Earth, I thought the trees appeared less dense here, a better place to bushwhack, although I can't be sure it made a whit of difference.)

After leaving the trail, we skipped across Fox Creek and made our way up the treed slopes. At first travel was easy and often pleasant given the soft moss underfoot and the clearings in the trees. But the pleasantries soon ended when we found ourselves snarled in underbrush. Except for the intervening ski trail we crossed, there was no reprieve from bushwhacking. Not until we found a trail.

Sometimes faint, overgrown, or hidden by avalanche debris, the trail wasn't always easy to follow, but it was faster than bushwhacking. Eventually we came out of the trees. We followed a strip of grass lined with trees on our left and a cliff band on our right.

The cliff band ended at a wall of trees where we turned right, broke through some dwarf spruce and began climbing. No routefinding here: just go straight up a narrow drainage. We knocked off 200 m of elevation in this drainage. Below the summit block, and now on a broad scree slope, we angled left to gain the ridge. After cresting it, the summit was close at hand.

The first thing I noticed were the Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes stretched below. While I stopped to admire the view, Dinah claimed the summit. It was too windy to stay long on the top, so we dropped down a bit and had lunch before beginning the trek back.

We retraced our steps except for one difference: we wanted to see where the overgrown trail went. It drifted left before bending back to intersect our bushwhacking route. Too bad it didn't continue.

In retrospect, I guess the bushwhacking and slogging weren't so bad. Now I'm leaning away from “enduring” and more towards “endearing.”

GPX and KML Tracks


The Turret from the Elk Pass Trail


After crossing Fox Creek we ascend a steep, moss-covered slope.


Open areas provide relief from bushbashing.


Bright green moss


Plenty of bushes in the trees


On the trail


We reach our first open slope.


The trail re-enters trees but becomes difficult to follow.


The cliff band ends at the wall of trees ahead where we'll turn right. Mount Fox in the background.


We head to the summit block.


Still following the drainage


Scrambling up a rock band


The steep grading is unvarying.


We're still following the drainage! It now stretches far below us.


We angled left, toward the ridge.


Although steep, it's an easy scramble.


Almost on the ridge


The summit is close at hand.


Lower and Upper Lakes


Dinah makes her way to the summit (mouse over for a close-up).


Mount Sarrail is hidden in cloud.


The summit


The scree in the drainage worked well on our descent.


The Turret (centre) from the road


Kananaskis Lakes 82 J/11

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