Burstall Pass is a popular hiking destination. The view of the surrounding peaks and valleys is outstanding. Well worth the small effort involved getting here. From the top of the pass you have an excellent view of the west side of Mount Birdwood
as well as Commonwealth peak
and the route on Mount Smuts
. Mount Assinaboine
is to the north-west. To the east is a fine view of Mount Sir Douglas
. The Burstall slabs a popular rock climbing are is also very visible directly to the east. To the north is the easy scramble of Snow Peak
which can be achieved in under an hour from the top of the pass. The top of the pass itself is a broad area with lots of areas to explore on its own. Standing here you are on the border of the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.
View from the top of the pass. Left to right, Mount Assinaboine in the clouds, Snow Peak, Mount Smuts(small in the background), Mount Birdwood, Pigs Tail, Commonwealth Peak, Burstall Slabs and Mount Sir Douglas
There are two ways to get to the trailhead depending on your point of departure. From Calgary take the trans-Canada highway. Then take the 40 south towards Fortress Junction. Just past here turn right on the Kananaskis trail and then right onto the Spray lakes road. Follow this road till you see signs for the Chester Lakes Day parking. Here turn left into the parking across the way next to the trail to Burstall pass. About 1 hour 20 minutes drive.
If you are coming from Canmore, head out on the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes road past the Grassi Lakes and the Goat Creek day use parking. Continue on the unpaved Spray lakes road for about 45km. Turn right at the Burstall pass parking just opposite the large Chester lake parking, this is about 3 kms from the Engadine Lodge road. Park here in this large parking lot. Follow the Burstall trail west along a dirt road, as it gradually becomes a trail. Follow the easy trail to the pass. At one point depending on the time of year you will have to cross many small finger streams. Sandals come in handy here if finding an easy way through them proves difficult. I had to hop streams in July but September and October this area was dry. Due to its height there can be snow in the pass in the early or late summer season so dress and choose footwear accordingly.
Safest June from to September. Can be done earlier with proper footwear. Can be done in the winter on snowshoes or skis. If the weather is good you should be able to follow the route without problems.
The Burstall Slabs
No red tape. This is a day trip. 4-6 hours
Don't leave items visible in the back of your car. Why tempt fate
Spray Lake Ranger Station. (403) 678-5533
Alberta Tourist Visitor Centre (403) 678-5277
The Alpine Club of Canada (403) 678-3200, ext 1
or (403) 762-2088 for weather conditions
Alpine Club of Canada
Above Mount Robertson 3,191 metres (10,480 feet) as seen on the route to the pass.
Joining a club such as The Alpine Club of Canada is recommended when climbing in Canada. While it is not obligatory, useful information can be had at any of their Clubhouse in Canmore, or at their website which is open to everyone.
Staying at the club in Canmore is 21$ Canadian for members and a little more for non-members. It can get quite crowded in the summer so a reservation is recommended.
Mt. Birdwood from below the pass.
Due to the fragility of the area there is no camping on the mountain and surrounding area.
There are other campgrounds in the area if desired.
Spray Lakes West Shore Campground has 50 sites (403) 591-7226
There is also the Alpine Club of Canada lodge in Canmore with rooms and excellent facilities of 21$ CDN a night. The Alpine Club of Canada (403) 678-3200, ext 1
Engadine Lodge is a good base camp if you want some comfort at the end of the day.
Box 40025 Canmore, Alberta T1W 3H9
Tel.: (403) 678-4080
Web address www.mountengadine.com