ApproachThis is a 5800’+/- ascent day
. I chose to camp at Lake Minnewanka's #8 campsite. This allowed for the spouse and dog. Also in late October, you will have this area to yourself. Wardens even questioned us going in, but all was good. Whether you camp or not, allow 2 hours by foot or 1 hour by bike to travel the 8 km along the lake shore trail to the intersecting Aylmer Pass trail (campsite). It took me 6.5 hours from this intersection to summit and return to the campsite.
From campsite LM8, proceed on the Aylmer Pass trail. This will take you past the Aylmer Lookout trail. Once you pass this intersection, continue to 7000'+/- where you are forced to cross a rock strewn gully/stream bed. The pass trail continues sharply left up hill, you on the other hand need to ascend the rock gully to the right as it twists around eastward, following it up to a perpendicular north-south ridge at 8000'. Tons of sheep graze this area (as does at least one bear)
. Once on this soft ridge, you will see your objective to the north. Now you have a choice, the easy scramble (still long day) is to descend from this ridge to the east and traverse left angling slightly higher until you see the notch in the SW ridge of Aylmer. It should be obvious that this notch circumvents the more difficult ridge climbing. You can pretty much angle your way up different scree slopes to this notch. This is the best descent route as well.
The more challenging ascent is to not descend from the north-south ridge and instead, continue gaining elevation to the northeast aiming for the intersection of dark brown scree on the left and light colored larger scree on the right. Once you obtain this southwest ridge
of Aylmer, take the ridge all the way, knowing you will have to down climb some moderate-difficult sections towards the end of this thrust to reach the same notch previously discussed. This is the route I took. Once you are at the notch, you will have about 1300' of large scree to go.
There is a summit register. The views were limited to the east by a large cornice. You have great views of Inglismaldie, Lake Minnewanka and the Palliser Range. Return is quicker via scree down from the notch aiming for that 8000' ridge. The ride down from 8000' to 7000' on that dark brown scree is sweet to say the least.
Helmet (do I have to keep saying it??? actually good for a grizzly scrape as well….they do not like the taste of foam), Alpine ax is better than a hiking pole for the soft steep sections, and again, great tool fighting off a bear if you can’t work things out. Spouse, dog, camping gear, etc. make for a pleasant outing. These are great campsites!