Crowsnest Pass is an obscure thin section of the Canadian Rockies that connects Kananaskis Provincial Park with Waterton National Park along the continental divide (border of British Columbia and Alberta). To drive from Canmore and/or Banff to Crowsnest Pass can take 3.5 to 4 hours. There is not much in the way of other climbing in the area, ice or rock. Crowsnest Pass offers a few scramble objectives amongst a smattering of small Canadian mining towns. Waterton National Park to the south at least offers some fine waterfall ice objectives in the winter along with its scramble collection. The Crowsnest area in contrast offers little in the way of technical climbing (in comparison to the National Park areas/towns). You are more likely to run into hunters and fishermen on their ATVs and snow mobiles than climbers, skiers or scramblers in the backcountry.
Window Mountain is, in my opinion, the most interesting of the scramble objectives near Crowsnest Pass. It truly possesses one of the more unique formations in the Canadian Rockies, an arch the size of which I have only seen via sandstone in the southern Utah desert. How an arch of this size, with the weight of limestone, can sustain the weight of itself is beyond me. The window created by the arch could fit a two story house and can be seen from at least one point along the range road and is quite vivid as you top out on the saddle of Mount Ward to the south. Allison Peak is the highest peak of this region and anchors the mountains which contain this window formation to the south. Its summit also marks the continental divide and thus the Alberta-British Columbia border. It was named after a RMP officer.
The best way to see this unique arch is to combine the trio of Mount Ward, Window Mountain and Allison Peak during a one day scramble fest. As scrambles in the Canadian Rockies go, the connecting ridges and relatively low elevation of this trio of peaks make this the easiest multi-summit day I have experienced to date in the Canadian Rockies.
Summit Mount Ward via easy terrain first, then scramble the ridge over to Allison Peak and finish by returning mid ridge to scramble down and up the perpendicular Window Mountain ridge. Descend Window Mountain to the window itself and then descend back to tree line. This strategy makes for a true circumvention of the entire area skirting the continental divide repeating little if any ground. Allison Peak is considered a difficult objective in Kane’s guide book, but I found it on the soft side of difficult if even.
Despite all the peaks and sub peaks involved, I made this complete three peak ascent and descent in 4.5hrs from the Window Mountain Lake trailhead to my vehicle parked out on the Allison Creek Road (Range Road 52A-53A). I have read another party record 8hrs for this trip, so plan accordingly. I descended upon, within 10m, a goat and her kid at the pass between the highpoint on the Ward-Allison Ridge and the Window Mountain summit. On return to Range Road 52A-53A, I pushed a young black bear down a clear cut road (before he entered the thick regrowth) for about a km in late September during prime berry season.