‘Mount Denny’ (GR 338277) is an attractive double summit mountain two peaks north of Mt. Evan-Thomas in the Opal Range of Kananaskis Country. The prolific Glen Boles applied the unofficial name of ‘Mount Denny’ to this peak after his team’s (G. Boles, D. Forest and M. Simpson) first ascent of the more northern summit in July of 1973; first ascent of southern summit was by John Martin solo in March 1973. The year of 1973 was the 100 th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, thence Boles’ suggestion. GR denotes grid reference of the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) National Topographic System of Canada (NTS).
Cecil Denny was born the second son of a baronet. He came to Canada to seek his fortune, and probably, adventure. He joined the North West Mounted Police (now the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s national police force) at Toronto in 1874. An officer during the famous march west, Denny served as second-in-command at Fort Calgary under Inspector Brisebois and become the commander of F Division, but was forced to leave the force in 1881. Afterwards Denny worked at a number of jobs including Indian Agent and finally, Provincial Archivist. Sir Cecil Denny died in Edmonton on August 24, 1928.
Easy highway access from Highway 40 along the western edge of the Opal Range 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.
Park in the Grizzly Creek parking lot, approximately 44 km south of the Trans Canada Highway. To gain the South West slopes of ‘Mt. Denny’ you need to access upper Grizzly Creek, which can be difficult as there is no official trail and significant elevation gain through dense trees. Once in the upper drainage of Grizzly Creek, head north over a slight pass into upper Rocky Creek and continue north about 1 kilometre from the pass to reach the South West slopes of ‘Mt. Denny’.
Red Tape / Camping and Bivouacs
‘Mount Denny’ is located in the Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park. No permit is required to park or climb in this park. The ascent of ‘Mount Denny’ is easily completed in a day and a bivouac is not required.
Backcountry camping permits are required at all designated backcountry campgrounds anywhere in Kananaskis Country. Random backcountry camping without a permit is allowed in most Wildland Provincial Parks, including Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park.
Permits can be purchased in person at Barrier Lake Visitor Information Centre and the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Visitor Information Centre during normal hours of operation.
When to Climb
Typical Canadian Rockies situation with July and August providing the best conditions for high elevation climbing. ‘Mount Denny’ has relatively low elevation and its position in the dry front ranges extends the summer season and is usually dry from April to late October.
The toughest part of this scramble is the hike up Grizzly Creek. I recommend that when up the creek about 1 km from highway, take the game trails on the north side of the creek. Just as the creek narrows into a tight canyon with a waterfall, an excellent trail presents itself on the left (north) side, take this trail into the upper reach of Grizzly Creek. Once above treeline travel is easy.
Hike northward, past ‘Mt. Potts’ (GR 340267) to the South West slopes of 'Mt. Denny'. About 3 hours takes you to the base of the slope.
Two routes have been documented on ‘Mount Denny’. Documented routes include:
Two Summits and SW Slopes of 'Mt. Denny'
- South West Slope, Alpine I (South, main summit)
First ascent of ‘Mount Denny’ was a solo winter ascent by John Martin via snow slopes on the South West slopes in March of 1973. From base of slope, snow was climbed directly to south (higher) summit. Descent by the same route.
- South West Slopes, Alpine I (North and South summits)
First ascent of this route by G. Boles, D. Forest and M. Simpson to the more northern summit in July of 1973. Party also traversed to southern summit, descended south to col and climbed North Ridge of ‘Mt. Potts’ (GR 393269). Traverse did required a rope and 5 class climbing.
South West slope, depending on choice of line of ascent, is class 3 to 4 climbing (moderate to difficult scrambling). Low angle and easier slopes are generally loose scree, with patches of steep slab available to increase the challenge. Most parties will likely wish to descend by the same route.
|Upper slabs on SW Slopes |
|South Summit from North Summit
Boles, G.W., Kruszyna R. & Putnam W.L. (1979). The Rocky Mountains of Canada South
. 7 th edition. New York: American Alpine Club, Alpine Club of Canada.
Out of print