OverviewMount Wintour is a minor, but spectacular, little mountain along the western edge of the Opal Range. The National Topographic System map (82J/11) doesn’t even show a tree line on this mountain, but there is definitely an abundance of rock walls and ridges. The summit reaches 2700 metres (8,858 ft.).
Named in 1922 for Captain Charles Wintour who was a commanding officer in the Royal Navy onboard the HMS Tipperary during the Battle of Jutland. First ascent September 1968 by G. Boles and E. Peyer via North Ridge. Mt. Wintour’s relatively low elevation extends the summer alpine rock season and is usually dry from April to mid October.
Getting ThereEasy highway access from Highway 40 along the western edge of the peak provides the best approach. Highway 40 does provide access from the Trans Canada Highway in the north, and continues south to the Longview area, but the southern section is closed for wildlife protection from December 1 to June 15 each winter/spring. Best vehicle access from Canmore/Banff or Calgary is via the Trans Canada Highway, south along Highway 40.
For the South Ridge, park at the gate for the now permanently closed Valleyview Road, approximately 55 km south of the Trans Canada Highway. Hike up Opal Creek, gain north (left) bank and follow good game trails above steep headwall to the upper creek and round Wintour to eastern slopes.
Mount Wintour is located in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. No permit is required to park or climb in this park. The ascent of Wintour is easily completed in a day and a bivouac is not required.
ApproachFrom the Valleyview Road walk to nearby Opal Creek. Good trails on both sides of the creek, but best choice is to take the left (north side) trail, just where the creek meets the gravel road, up the bank, then up sharp ridge just above the north creek bank.
This trail leads to the gully north (left) of Opal Falls. This gully is loose and steep, but becomes wider and more stable near top. Once above Opal Falls, excellent game trails lead to upper Opal Creek, about 100 metres above creek once on the south slopes of Mt. Wintour.
Continue on good trails to round obvious steep rock buttress on south end of Wintour. Continue rounding north to intersect drainage from East Ridge of Mt. Wintour then up steep scree/dirt combo to East Ridge about GR360172. GR denotes Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) National Topographic System of Canada (NTS) grid reference.
Route DescriptionSouth Ridge, Alpine II, 5.4
First ascent of this route by D. Gardner and N. Liske in 1977. Where grass slopes end, head up East Ridge, slightly to right, up easy gully (looks steeper than it really is) and continue up gully to South Ridge, about GR 358172.
Continue north along ridge, lots of exposure and lots of loose rock. Difficult scrambling (4 th class rock) provides great views and lots of interesting moves, but watch your holds as the rock quality is very poor.
About 120 horizontal metres from the summit. A steep rise in the ridge blocks easy travel.
Left of the centre of the ridge, a slab meets a steep wall, a good crack provided a belay station with bomber nuts or cams. Easy slab climbing (5.4) with good protection, with nuts, for 10 metres, then the line tended right onto easy ground (5.3), but no protection until a short corner. Climb short corner (5.4), with sketchy pro to easy ground above (30 metres from belay). Belay off rock piles, some more solid than others.
Easy scrambling to summit. About 4 hours from the parking lot. Descend the same route. Rappel or downclimb 30 metre crux.