Mount Blane belongs to a unique set of three mountains that are part of the Opal Range, hidden from the Kananaskis River Valley to the east by King Creek Ridge and Mount Wintour. The approach through King Creek Canyon, an ice climbing mecca called King Creek Seepages, is nothing short of spectacular. This is one of my favorite approaches in all of Kananaskis. Kananaskis Provincial Park encompasses over 4,000 square kilometers of foothills and mountains bordering Banff National Park in the central Canadian Rockies. The Opal Range is rather extensive including Mount Evan-Thomas to the north running down to Mount Elpoca and Gap Mountain to the south. The other two mountains that sit with Mount Blane are Mount Brock and Mount Hood. Mount Blane is the highest of the three.
Mount Blane was officially named in 1922 after a WWI Royal Navy commander, typical for peaks in the area. It was first ascended in 1955 by Duffy, Hohnson, Kennedy and Koch (killed during the descent). The alpine route we climbed was first ascended by Prinz, Jungnitch and Schmidt in 1962. The only published route in the local guidebook is the northwest ridge, an Alpine II-5.6 route. There are no viable ski routes up the mountain. The ridge is not the “quality” limestone suggested in the local guide book. It is as large and loose as any ridge climb I have been on. The summit itself is a deteriorating collection of debris.
Take the Kananaskis Highway (Highway 40) exit off of the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary and Canmore. Travel past Kananaskis Park headquarters and Barrier Lake on your right and continue quite a distance to the intersection with the Kananaskis Lakes Trail road on your right. There will be a winter gate in front of you and King Creek Day Use parking area will be on your left. Pull into this trailhead parking lot. There are restrooms at this location.
There are no permit requirements to enter, climb and/or park in Kananaskis Provincial Park. This is active grizzly country however. Take bear spray. The grassy slopes leading up to the climb are prime bear habitat. There have been numerous 2005 trail closures in Kananaskis due to mountain lions and grizzlies. Therefore it would be prudent to check recent notices posted on the park’s website. You will pass the park headquarters en route on Highway 40 (Kananaskis Trail) several kilometers south of the Trans-Canada (on your right). Notices are posted outside if they are closed. This is a solid information center with good staff and beta.
When To Climb
As with most climbs in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. We did this climb in September and conditions were completely dry. There are no published backcountry ski routes on Mount Blane, nor would it be conducive to skiing.
There are campsites galore in the Kananaskis Lakes complex across Highway 40, backcountry and camper sites. You cannot camp outside of the marked specific camping areas in Kananaskis. Refer to the Kananaskis Provincial Park website for more information regarding camping and/or lodging.
The Kananaskis Provincial Park website is a very thorough park website, including trail conditions or closures, wildlife notices, weather conditions, avalanche conditions, camping permits, whitewater conditions, etc. It is an excellent source if you are going to spend any time here and comparable to any National Park website I have used. Outside of the parks web site, Canadian Avalanche Association is also useful, particularly for winter travel. Canadian Alpine Accident Reports are also extremely useful.
""You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.""