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Freedom of the Hills...

Mount Chester
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Date:                                                    July 22, 2006

Participants:                                          Solo

Distance:                                              Approximately 13 km

Elevation Gain:                                     Approximately 1100 m

Maximum Elevation:                              3050

Elapsed Time:                                       6:00 approx. (+ 2 hrs for bear!)

Published Routes:                                 Kane

Published Rating:                                  Moderate

Difficulty - Endurance:                          5.5

Difficulty - Technical:                            3.5


Kane indicates that this is one of his favourite scrambles.  I can perhaps understand this sentiment in that the approach is in gorgeous surroundings.  The scrambling is fairly lengthy but is, with all due respect, just a scramble up a choss heap with intermittent slabs and rock ribs to scurry up to ease the monotony.  I must still not be used to the Rockies!!!  The route is generally steep hiking with some easy 3rd class scrambling and some periodic moderate steps.  In fact the route I chose had a few short, unexposed, low 5th class sections that, although totally avoidable by some negligible back tracking, out of laziness I just climbed up.


There was a grizzly bear warning posted for the area and as I was the first person on the approach trail in the morning I was a bit nervous.  Every hundred meters or so I would let fly a bear call and I had the bear spray ready to go.  It’s not a pleasant feeling being the first into an area, by oneself when bears have been spotted.  In fact it was probably a stupid risk.


The route follows the Chester Lake hiking trail then cuts across open meadow, through some bush and into a wide but steep ascent gulley to the col.  From the col the route goes straight up the broad, rubble choked ascent ridge.


When I was about 60% up the ascent ridge I noticed a large group of people assembling at the col below me.  On the way down I ran into these folks on their way up and it turned out they were a group of 15 people from the Calgary Outdoor Club (good thing they had helmets!).  They indicated that they had actually seen the grizzly meandering through the meadow directly in the path of the descent route.  They suggested that I may want to wait for them at the col so that I could cross the meadows with them.  Not wanting to be a grizzly’s lunch I took them up on the offer even though it ended up adding about 2 hours to my trip.  Nevertheless I greatly appreciated their gracious offer.  Some of the delay was waiting for all the members of the group to catch up to the leaders including a young doctor who had been hit full in the chest by party induced rock fall and had fractured some of his ribs.  He was able to continue out under his own steam, making a self diagnosis that the ribs were likely just cracked and not severely broken.


Big thanks to the Calgary Outdoor Club for allowing me to accompany them off the mountain.


I should have listened.


The ascent gully and the route up the ridge to the summit


Looking down the gully from the col.. the bear is waiting down there somewhere!


An example of the terrain.


More of the harder terrain.


Another example of the terrain.


At the summit, complete with massive flying ants.


A telephoto shot of what appears to be the centennial register (the white object) part of the way down a semi-exposed gully near the summit.  (Nope, it wasn't me!).  The slope is worse than it appears here and I did not try to retrieve it. The old register is still in place.


The group from the Calgary Outdoor Club as I wait for them to assemble at the col.