Mount Galatea belongs to the long Kananaskis Range located just north of Kananaskis Lakes in the center of Kananaskis Country, a provincial park which encompasses over 4,000 square kilometers of foothills and mountains bordering Banff National Park in the central Canadian Rockies. Mount Galatea shares the range with many other climbs including: Gusty Peak, Mount Engadine, The Fortress, Mount Chester and Mount Lawson.
Mount Galatea was officially named in 1922 after a WWI battleship, typical of peaks in this section of Kananaskis. The first ascent was made in 1930 by Gardiner and Feuz. The only published route up Galatea is the difficult scramble. Mount Galatea does not see near the traffic as the easier and more common objectives of The Fortress and Mount Chester using the same trailhead for their approach. Its south slopes are steep and avalanche danger is high most of the year. Many consider Galatea more of a light mountaineering objective.
At 10,500’, the views are far reaching in this section of Kananaskis. Directly southwest you have uninterrupted views of Mount Sir Douglas along with its group and to the north Mount Bogart sticks out among many peaks. If you take your time and bring your map(s), you could spend some quality time identifying peaks from the summit. It can still be windy and cold in mid-August however.
From the Canmore Nordic Center, drive 40kms+/- south on the Spray Lakes/Smith Dorrien Road (gravel). Turn left at a sign for the Chester Lake day use parking lot. You are guaranteed mountain sheep on the Spray Lakes Road (I saw two rams this particular morning) and if you are lucky as I was this outing, a moose or two. I witnessed a moose and her calf cross the road about 3kms past Goat Creek Trail. I saw this same female without a calf two years ago. Watch for hazardous rock fall on the switchbacks above Canmore. At times this road will be closed due to rock and/or mud slides. There are restrooms at the Chester Lake day use parking lot.
There are no permit requirements to enter, climb and/or park in Kananaskis Provincial Park. This is active grizzly country however. Take bear spray. 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. The park headquarters is actually located on Highway 40 (Kananaskis Trail).
When To Climb
As with most climbs in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I did Mount Galatea in August, 2005 and the route had two feet of fresh snow for the last 2500’ of ascent. In any regard, the south face slopes of Mount Galatea should be respected as a mountaineering objective versus a scramble. There are no published backcountry ski routes on Mount Galatea, but I could envision a line following the route I used under prime snow conditions which could be rare and you would not reach the final summit on skis. This is a steep slope, but skiers left descent could be interesting.
The closest camping is located back at the north end of Spray Lakes Reservoir across the damn at random campsites located on the west shore of the lake. 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. A premium accommodation is the Engadine Lodge (back at Spray Lake Road) which is only several kilometers north.
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.
""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.""