Mount Tyrwhitt is part of the Elk Range and is located on the continental divide (re: 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 Tyrwhitt was officially named n 1918 after a WWI Admiral, common for the mountains in this region. Tyrwhitt was first ascended by the legendary Canadian climber Conrad Kain along with Westmorland and Campbell in 1914.
Mount Tyrwhitt’s elevated start at Highwood Pass (7239’) and approach through golden Larches make it one of the most scenic short routes in the Canadian Rockies. Adding to its popularity is a most unique natural arch feature called the “Window” found on its east ridge. The only published route up Tyrwhitt is the moderate scramble and this route takes you right by this feature. You can schedule this scramble for a short day and return on the east ridge, but I highly recommend combining it with a traverse over to Mount Pocaterra and descend the route from there making it a true cirque. You are treated to great views of the Height of Rockies group, including Mount Joffre to the west as well as the Misty Range of Mount Rae, Storm Mountain and Mount Arethusa to the east.
Take 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 park. Restrooms are at this location. Kananaskis Trail 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.
In my opinion, this Highwood Pass area serves up the most scenic and accessible high alpine foliage in all of the Canadian Rockies.
There are no permit requirements to enter, climb and/or park in Kananaskis Provincial Park. This is active grizzly country however. Take bear spray. As of July, 2005, we have current 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.
When To Climb
As with most climbs in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I climbed Mount Tyrwhitt in September and the route was free of snow. There are no published backcountry ski routes on Mount Tyrwhitt, nor would I suspect this to be a mountain worth skiing.
The 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.
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.""