Crowsnest Mountain

Crowsnest Mountain

Submitted by: Joel

One summer I was taking road trips all over Alberta, exploring and doing lots of photography. A friend and set off on one road trip with the explicit goal of climbing Crowsnest Mountain in the southern Canadian Rockies. We pulled over in a random meadow late in the evening, and set up our tent in a as it started to get dark. There was a ring of stones nearby, so we built a small fire. It was a beautiful evening under the stars. By the time our alarms went off at 4:00 am, I was ready to get off of my thin sleeping mat, that hadn’t allowed for a good sleep. We packed up our campsite in the dark and hit the road early in the morning.

The trailhead was was a makeshift jumble of unclear cutlines. We weren’t certain that we were on the right path, so we just kept moving in the direction of the mountain. Our start involved a lot of bushwhacking.  We emerged from the trees just as the sun was rising. It was a perfect time to stop for a snack and take a moment to enjoy the view. We were perched atop a little ledge, with a cliff behind us.  As we were eating, we heard some gravel shifting behind us, and turned to see a bunch of mountain goats peering down at us from up on top of the small cliff. As long as we remained still, they were pretty okay with our presence. However, the moment we got up to continue hiking, they took off running. It was incredible to see how fast they could run along the steep cliffs and scree slopes, completely comfortable. We watched them run until they were no longer in sight.

The rock on crowsnest mountain is kind of rotten. Most holds will fall if you try to put any weight on them. We went up one chimney that was extremely sketchy, because all of the rocks you grabbed onto would pull out and fall. We had to be careful, as many rocks would fall below you as you climbed. In hindsight, it is pretty obvious that we were not on the right trail.

Eventually, we found what seemed to be a decent path, and it was smooth sailing from then on. At the summit, the views were incredible. To the north, there is a beautiful ridge called the seven sisters. Crowsnest is kind of a mountain to itself, in the middle of nowhere. You could see for miles and miles. The crowsnest region is horrible for all-terrain vehicles and motorbikes, but the mountain is steep enough to create a tranquil oasis, far from all of the motorized vehicles.

Going back down the mountain was the most fun.  The rocks are so loose that we were able to scree surf on the loose rocks most of the way, not needing to use any trails. Every second step you would slide ten feet. It was as if we were skiing down the mountain. We eventually made it back to the car, and headed for home.