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“Arethusa Pass”
Kananaskis, Alberta
September 24, 2017

Distance: 5.2 km
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 613 m

Arethusa Cirque is one of the best places to view larches in the fall, but not content to stay among the trees, we wanted to climb. We had already been up Little Arethusa, so we turned our attention to the pass south of Mount Arethusa. Zora and I set off for the pass, while Dinah decided to hang back at the cirque. There she would find more excitement than Zora and I in a grizzly not ten metres away.

We weren't expecting any excitement when we started up the popular trail, sharing it with other hikers. In a short time, we were threading through the yellowing trees. We didn't go directly to the pass but instead swung north to a cirque near Little Arethusa. This took us out of the trees onto a vast, barren plateau. There we found fresh bear tracks and diggings, but with so many people about, we didn't expect to see a bruin.

Below Mount Arethusa we noticed a trail easing up a scree slope; it appeared to be an auspicious start to the pass. Dinah stayed below while Zora and I started our ascent.

The trail appeared promising, but it ended abruptly at a steep gully. We climbed to the top of the gully and then traversed a scree slope toward the pass. Eventually we caught a trail. When it came to a steep chute, we climbed up and arrived on the pass. We noticed two other trails reaching the pass that were higher up but didn't encounter a chute. We hiked a short distance up Mount Arethusa before turning around.

Back at the pass, we stopped to talk to two others, Dave and Kelly. Dave shared some interesting news that he learned from a park warden. So many hikers are flooding the Highwood Pass area that they are stressing bears. In the future, there may be restrictions on the number of hikers in the area.

When Zora and I started back down, we took a different track, one that avoided the steep gully. Instead we followed a scree trail down to the cirque. We expected to find Dinah at the bottom, but when we didn't, we returned to our car. She was waiting for us with a story to tell.

She had waited for us at the bottom of the scree, in the open, when a silverback grizzly appeared out of nowhere and lumbered past her just metres away. The bear showed no interest in her, but naturally it gave her a fright. She backed off and joined a couple that was 15 m away. Together, they made their way back to the parking lot without incident.

KML and GPX Tracks

Hiking up the icy trail

After crossing Arethusa Creek we turned left

Hiking through larches

Looking back after a steep climb up a hillside

The trail runs along the edge of a ravine

Across the ravine we could see the pass

The trail continues straight to Little Arethusa, but here we turned right and took another trail

The trail heads to a cirque

The trail ends so we headed to the lump of rocks in the cirque

Behind us is a barren plateau

Mount Arethusa rises above the cirque

From the cirque we headed to the trail in the scree

Following the trail

Looking back at Little Arethusa

When the trail ended, we continued traversing

Hiking up the gully

After traversing the scree slope we caught a trail leading to the pass

We passed under some unusual rocks

Looking back along the trail

The trail led to a steep chute where we gained the ridge

Zora climbs up the chute

Taking a panorama on the pass

We climbed a short way above the pass before turning around

Looking down at Arethusa Cirque

Coming down from the pass we took advantage of soft scree

Following the trail down

Almost at the bottom of the scree slope. Our ascent gully is left.

Heading back into the larches

82 J/11 Kananaskis Lakes

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