Mount Jerram is a prominent and significant peak that provides a striking tower summit block along a sharp ridge line with massive faces beneath. This impressive peak is essentially unknown, relatively far removed from the highway, and not in the mind of many climbers. Until this year, there were only two recorded ascents of this peak, and the summit register concurred with this and only had two entries in August of 2016. Mount Jerram is ninth highest mountain (2996 metres, 9,829 feet) in the Opal Range
, sharing a north Col with Mount Burney
(2934 m) and a south Col with the impressive “Cat’s Ears, North summit” (2960 m). From Mt. Jerram summit to the Burney Col, there is about 155 metres of prominence and about 75 metres of prominence to the “Cat’s Ears – north” Col. Interesting, the Col between Mt. Jerram and Mt. Wintour to the west, has the great prominence for any summit within the Opal Range. 676 metres (2218 feet) from the saddle between Mt. Wintour and Mt. Jerram; saddle at 2320m and Jerram summit at 2996m (prominence to Mt. Wintour summit is 380m).
|West Face |
|Summit Tower |
Like most Opal Range summits, this peak has named to honour the Battle of Jutland. Named in 1922 for Admiral Sir Thomas Jerram (1858 - 1933) who was a British admiral of the First World War. During the Battle of Jutland, he was Commander of the 2nd Battle Squadron. First ascent of the peak was by Don Morrison and Jim Tarrant on June 15, 1957 via the West Ridge to the West Face and final summit ridge along the South Ridge. Second recorded ascent by local climbing legend Rick Collier and John Holmes, July 19, 1998, via the same route with a minor variation below the final summit ridge.
Best vehicle access from Canmore/Banff or Calgary is via the Trans Canada Highway, then south along Highway 40. From the intersection of Highway 40 (Kananaskis Trail) and Highway 1 (Trans Canada Highway) travel south towards Kananaskis Lakes. From the 1 / 40 intersection travel south 54.5 km to the Valleyview road turnoff.
A portion of Highway 40 is closed for wildlife protection during the winter/spring. From December 1 to June 15 Highway 40 is closed from the Kananaskis Lake turnoff to the intersection of Highway 940, near the Highwood River. This closure is about 5 km north of the Valleyview road trail head. A bike or ski approach can make short work of this distance.
Red Tape / Camping and Bivouacs
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is a popular and busy recreation area hectic with front country users in the summer months. Off the beaten track areas, like Opal Creek, are easy to find and often very wild, usually providing a solitary experience.
No permit or fee is required to enter, park or hike in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. The approach for Mount Jerram is a long and may require a bivy for some teams. Within Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, backcountry camping, including bivouacs for climbing, are only allowed in designated campsites. There are no backcountry campgrounds in Opal, King or Elpoca Creeks.
Up to date information about Peter Lougheed Provincial Park available at:
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
Opal Creek intersects the old Valleyview road just above Highway 40. The Valleyview road was recently closed to vehicle traffic to protect Grizzly Bear habitat. This old paved road is gated about 200 metres after leaving the main highway, park alongside the old road. Hike pass the gate, approaching the Opal Creek bridge.
|gated road |
|start of trail |
|high north bank trail
Just before the bridge, turn left, north, onto the north bank of Opal Creek. Just off the pavement, the trail follows the north bank a very short distance (10 metres or so) then the trail climbs steeply out of the creek and heads north, just above the creek. After a short distance in the trees, the trail rises along the steep north bank of Opal Creek. Follow this obvious and well worn trail up to the scree slopes below the cliff band that forms Opal Falls. The obvious trail continues in the scree, heading north, below the cliff band for about 400 metres to the base of wide and loose gully that breaks the cliff band. Bash up loose dirt and rock into the narrowing gully, as you near trees on the right, head towards them for more solid ground. Once above the rocky rib on your right, work your way up low angle rock and scree into the trees above. An excellent, well worn trail begins above in the trees, first on the narrow crest of a rocky rib. This excellent trail heads up Opal Creek on the north bank for about 1 kilometre.
|traverse below band |
|view up access gully |
|above access gully
After the obvious trail ends, there are intermittent game trails, but the bush is light and it is easy to approach the Wintour/Jerram saddle at the top of the Opal Creek drainage to the north. Nearing the saddle, trees thin out a lot and more game trails emerge.
|Opoca Peak from saddle |
|Wintour saddle from summit |
|Saddle from route
When to Climb
Typical Canadian Rockies situation; best conditions for a high elevation alpine rock route is July to early September. Often the route will hold snow into early July, so August is best month to have dry conditions.
The only published route information for Mount Jerram is in the “The Rocky Mountains of Canada South”, Boles, G.W., Kruszyna R. & Putnam W.L. (1979) guidebook, now out of print, and one trip report (R. Collier and J. Holmes) online at bivouac.com
Route line for West Ridge/Face on Mt. Jerram
- West Ridge, West Face, Alpine II, 5.6
The line of the first, second and third ascents. From the Mt. Jerram/Mt. Wintor saddle head into the basin between the West Ridge and South-West Ridge of Mt. Jerram, easy routefinding through meadows and light trees. The lower section of the West Ridge has a vertical wall, to bypass this wall, head up scree slopes angling left (north) on an obvious left tending ramp to gain the middle section of the West Ridge. From here it is an easy scramble (Class 3) with the odd steep step, overall solid ledges and not too loose.
|West Face on approach |
|lower ridge scramble |
|Andrew enjoying the day
The West Ridge ends at a steep wall on the West Face. This next section is about 30 metres of 5.4 climbing on solid rock, fun, but very hard to protect. I managed to get one cam about mid height, and just ran the pitch to the easy ground above. I belayed on a boulder and one piton station, removed the piton after bringing up the second. Once above this wall, head up straight up scree slopes, when the basin above broadens wider, follow an obvious scree ramp up left to the next skyline ridge line. All easy terrain. This is the start of the Collier/Holmes variation, first ascent tackled the slabs above head on to the summit ridge, then north on the ridge to a gap, then summit.
|nearing 5.4 pitch |
|view up 5.4 pitch |
|slope above pitch
|scree ramp to traverse left |
|Mt. Burney from route |
|view up to scree ramp
Once on the crest of the faint rib/ridge, locate the access to the bottom of the gully pitch, easy traverse on short steps and scree. Easy scree below gully pitch, great tall boulder for belay about 5 metres below gully start. The bottom of the gully is wide and a bit awkward to start on; I used really good hand holds on the right side of the gully to get my body up, this same hand crack was perfect for two cam placements. Once protected, just a strenuous grunt, wide stem, then into narrower part of the gully, overall strenuous 5.5 moves. Once past this section, easy 5.3 ish climbing up narrow gully, but little protection. Pitched out about 30 metres to another solid horn belay station.
|view to gully, centre |
|OSWB stemming up bottom of pitch |
|from top belay, view down gully
Rick Collier’s trip report indicated they went up to the notch, then took the ridge line (tower) out of the narrow notch to the summit. There was a small low angled slab face, then a steep face that lead directly to the ridge, I took this line instead of heading up scree to the notch; seemed more direct. Definitely 5.6 climbing and extremely loose rock, but the worst rock quality section was where I gained the ridge, very exposed and the rock just peeled off the mountain. Once on the ridge the climbing became a loose moderate scramble to the summit cairn, about 30 metres from gaining the ridge.
|OSWB part way up 5.6 |
|OSWB on summit |
Rick Collier’s summit register was still intact. The register had two entries, Rick lists the first ascent team and the variation him and John took, and then different hand writing with comments, but no names or date, and we think it may have been John’s comments? We believe we made the third ascent of this peak. The summit is exposed and narrow, but has incredible views of the surrounding Opal Range. We enjoyed the good weather, took hundreds of photos I am sure, then began to look for a rappel anchor. We found a decomposed sling, and the piton that Rick had placed in 1998. It was still super solid. I built an anchor with this pin and a big boulder, left an old biner and cord in place for our rappel back to scree about the gully pitch. Found a solid boulder and left cord in place for rappel of the 5.5 gully. All easy, breezy work.
|Andrew on descent |
|rope resetting |
|View down gully
Easy terrain back towards the first 5.4 pitch. We decided to descend the same way that Rick and John did; done the broken mid section of the West Face. In hindsight, would now recommend setting a rappel for the 5.4 pitch and descending the same down as the upward route. The descent of the face was slow, lots of pain in behind route finding down steep steps and very loose scree; slow and uncomfortable downclimbing. Once back to easy scree, head back to saddle and Opal Creek back to the car as the approach.
| Andrew on bottom of gully rap |
|view up West Face descent |
|last view of face