The Tower, due to its access, is actually a relatively popular scramble in Alan Kane’s “Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies” guide book. Pvalchev and I actually tried to ski this mountain last spring (2006), but to no avail, therefore, this past summer I achieved the summit via the scramble route. The Tower is located between Mount Galatea and Mount Engadine in the Kananaskis Range of Kananaskis Provincial Park. “Kananaskis Country” encompasses over 4,000 square kilometers of foothills and mountains bordering Banff National Park in the central Canadian Rockies. Other climbs in the Kananaskis Range besides The Tower, Mount Galatea and Mount Engadine include: Gusty Peak, The Fortress, Mount Chester and Mount Lawson.
Originally bearing the name “Unnamed 3117”, The Tower was unofficially tagged such sometime after 1957. Supposedly Hans Gmoser climbed the The Fortress in 1957 and named it the Tower (which it resembles to be sure) thinking he had climbed a new peak. Somehow the name got transferred to this peak despite the fact that Gmoser did not climb it. From what I can tell, it bears no specific resemblance to a Tower.
The south slope scramble route is very similar, although not as steep, to neighboring Mount Galatea and thus presents a certain amount of avalanche danger in the winter and spring months. As with most 10,000’+ peaks in this area, the 360 degree views will not disappoint, including peeks at Mount Sir Douglas, Mount Assiniboine and Mount Joffre, three mountains over the 11,000’ mark in the local vicinity (I have soloed all three of these objectives).
Getting ThereFrom the Canmore Nordic Center, drive 36 km south on the Spray Lakes Road (gravel or in winter, snow laden, maybe not even be plowed depending how early you are getting started). Watch for hazardous rock or snow fall on the switchbacks above Canmore. Turn right at signs for the Mount Shark Cross Country and Biathlon Range, Mount Shark Helipad and Engadine Lodge . Park immediately off the side road to the left. I have observed as many as 10 female moose at one time in the mud flats west of Engadine Lodge. This is one of the most popular locations for moose in all of the Canadian Rockies. On this particular climb, as we parked, a mother moose actually brought her calf over to us for inspection. Normally mothers are very protective and shy about their calves. We also had a wild hare hanging out where we parked (photo). Seeing a wild hare in this neck of the woods is less common than spotting a bear.
Red TapeThere are no permit requirements to enter, climb and/or park in Kananaskis Provincial Park. This is active grizzly country and there are plenty of wild strawberries on the ground as well as berry bushes along the approach.
CampingThe 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.
When to ClimbAs with most climbs in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I attempted to ski The Tower in the spring without success. I climbed it via the scramble route in August and the route was free of snow.
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.