Mount Brett is part of the Massive Range along with Mount Bourgeau,
Massive Mountain, and Pilot Mountain
(this group of mountains reveal the appropriate naming of the range) located in the Bow River Valley of Banff National Park
. Banff National Park is one of four connecting national parks in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Mount Brett was officially named such in 1916 after a prominent Banff surgeon and Alberta politician. Brett was first ascended in 1916 by A.H. Bent, C.F. Hogeboom, K.D. McClelland, James Outram and E.G. Ritchie.
Alan Kane suggests in his guidebook, Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, to climb Pilot Mountain and Mount Brett together. I concur with this strategy being an avid peak bagger, but it makes for an athletic day in the mountains, gaining a total of 8400’ via my altimeter.
When investigating the climbs on the internet and reading the actual summit log on Mount Brett, I found no evidence of anyone else combining the two. However, it worked for me.
The key views from Mount Brett’s summit include looking back north at Pilot Mountain,
Massive Mountain and Copper Mountain
, west towards the Goodsirs, Mount Ball and Isabelle Peak
and of course Mounts Assiniboine and Joffre in the distance to the south. The route from the base of Pilot Mountain’s summit block is fairly straight forward with one suggestion for improvement over the route I actually did.
The Trans-Canada Highway dissects Banff National Park east to west as you come in from Calgary. Continue past the Banff and Sunshine Ski Resort exits. Trans-Canada is a four lane interstate type of highway, but it will let you turn left across traffic into several different trailheads. The second one you come to at 30+/-kms beyond Banff is the Redearth Creek Trailhead. There are restrooms at this location.
You will be required to purchase a national park pass as you enter the park. This pass is good for all four national parks. If you plan many visits to Canadian National Parks within one year, you should purchase an annual pass. There are no permit requirements to climb in Banff National Park, but all camping is regulated. There is also a backcountry permit required if you plan on spending a night in the backcountry. Even if you use a hut, you will need this permit. This can be obtained via the parks website which is included in the camping section below. Park headquarters are located in Banff and you will drive through the manned kiosks as you enter the park.
This is active grizzly country, therefore, you should always have bear spray on your person. I advise checking with Parks Canada
for any area and/or trail closures.
When To Climb
As with most climbs in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I did Mount Brett in August and the route was free of snow on the summit ridge. There are no published backcountry ski routes on Mount Brett, but I could see skiing to the summit via its western slopes. This would be extreme backcountry-athletic skiing.
The closest camp site would be the Lost Horse Creek, RE6, backcountry site in Banff National Park and would make for a great base camp if you wanted to bag Pilot Mountain, Mount Brett and/or Copper Mountain on separate days. It is 7.2kms in on Redearth Creek Trail. You could really live it up with a reservation at Shadow Lake Lodge
another 6kms west on Redearth Creek Trail. They feed you well and even have a homemade sauna (live fire) which I have experienced on a winter ski trip. There are several more backcountry sites in the area. You can go on line at Banff National Park
to pick a camp site and obtain your camping permit. You will also be required to obtain your backcountry permit which is separate, but can be obtained simultaneously if you plan on camping at a backcountry site.
The Banff National Park website
has weather, wildlife reports, trail closures, etc. Outside of the parks web site, Canadian Avalanche Association
is also useful, particularly for winter travel. Canadian Alpine Accident Reports
are also extremely useful.
External LinksParks Canada100’s of Canadian Rockies multi-pitch rock climbs, ice climbs, alpine climbs and scrambles, just scroll down to routesOR: Best True Technical Clothing and Accessories in the Outdoor IndustryScarpa, has surpassed La Sportiva in terms of quality, function, valueOsprey Backpacks, Not a Second ChoiceGreat Outdoors DepotMont-BellCascade Designs (MSR; Thermarest; Platypus)