This was a complicated naming process with this one. Mount Storelk lies between Storm Creek and the Elk River, thus it was officially named in 1915. Mount Storelk is part of the Elk Range and is located on the continental divide (re: Unnamed Peak, Mount Isabelle, Storm Mountain and Mount Bosworth), therefore, on the border of Alberta and British Columbia as well as Kananaskis Provincial Park (encompassing over 4,000 square kilometers of foothills and mountains bordering Banff National Park) and British Columbia public lands in the Canadian Rockies. Mount Storelk sits directly east of Mount Joffre, one of the most popular Canadian Rockies 11,000’+ objectives. Mount Storelk was first ascended in 1915 by the Interprovincial Boundary Commission.
The Elk range begins with Mount Pocaterra to the north, runs through Mount Tyrwhitt and ends through Mount Storelk’s south ridge. I have climbed all three of these mountains. The only published route up Mount Storelk is Alan Kane’s difficult rated scramble in his “Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies” guide book. The scramble route offers some exposed climbing up the east face of its north-south ridge. Lending itself to the difficult rating is the bushwhacking, route finding and grizzly habitat you must cross on approach. I found the guide books route photo and description to be somewhat inadequate. Despite lacking direct route information, this still proved to be a short day objective that I completed in less than 5 hours. The guidebook suggests 6-8 hours. Despite its close proximity from the Kananaskis Highway, this is a relatively remote objective. I was the first summit register sign in for 2006 (July 12) and observed that the last sign in for 2006 referenced a grizzly sow with two cubs on the approach. The intermittent lush meadows in dense forest make for prime grizzly environment. I did come across some sort of kill that was fly infested in one of these areas. There are no ski routes to the summit, nor would it be conducive for such.
The Misty Range to the east is in clear view including Mount Rae, Storm Mountain and Mount Arethusa. I have climbed all of these objectives. In my opinion, this Highwood Pass area serves up the most scenic and accessible high alpine foliage in all of the Canadian Rockies.
Getting ThereTake the Kananaskis Trail (Highway 40) exit off of the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary and Canmore. Drive to the Highwood Pass day parking area at 7239’ (Highwood Pass Interpretive Trail) and continue another 6.4kms+/- from the pass. I basically drove just a tad beyond an active creek with high stone walls on the right, just beyond the Mount Lipsett day use area on the left. Just park along the side of the road. There was no trail or cairn in 2006. This section of Kananaskis Highway is closed from December 1 through June 15, and I do mean with a gate. The closure is at Kings Creek (Canyon), meaning no access to any of the Highwood area mountains prior to June 15th.
Red TapeThere are no permit requirements to enter, climb and/or park in Kananaskis Provincial Park. This is active grizzly country however. Take bear spray. In 2005 they had trail closures in this area of Kananaskis due to a mountain lion (protecting its kill) and grizzly with cubs (bluff charge). Therefore it is prudent to check recent notices posted on the bulletin board outside of park headquarters which you drive by on Highway 40 (Kananaskis Trail). If they are open, check in with the ranger staff, they have tons of beta and are always friendly.
CampingThe closest camping is a backcountry site at Elbow Lake, 1.3 km in on Big Elbow Trail back north a few kilometers off of Hwy 40. There are tons of camping options further north at Kananaskis Lakes. 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.
When to ClimbAs with most scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I climbed Mount Storelk in July and the route was free of snow. There are no published backcountry ski routes on Mount Storelk, nor would I suspect this to be a mountain worth skiing.
Mountain ConditionsThe 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.