Mount Warspite holds down the middle section of the Spray Mountain Range located just north of Upper Kananaskis Lake in the center of Kananaskis Country, a provincial park which encompasses over 4,000 square kilometers of foothills and mountains bordering Banff National Park in the central Canadian Rockies. Mount Warspite shares the range with several other objectives including: Mount Murray
(bolstering the northern end of the range), Mount Black Prince, Mount Invincible and Mount Indefatigable
(ending the range to the south). Mount Warspite was officially named in 1917 after a WWI battleship, typical of peaks in this section of Kananaskis.
The only published route up Mount Warspite is the difficult scramble. As the guidebook suggests, during snow and ice conditions which prevail the majority of the year on this peak, this route is more of a mountaineering objective than a scramble, requiring an alpine ax and crampons.
During dry conditions, you can extend this route via a traverse to Mount Invincible and/or Mount Indefatigable
. This is a remote section of the Kananaskis Lakes area once you move past the interpretative trail. There were considerable signs of large predators around the mudflats of Warspite Lake in 2005. The guidebook references 8-12 hours for this objective, I completed it under 6 hrs, although an athletic endeavor pressured by storms.
I ascended Mount Warspite in pre-winter type storm conditions, therefore, my views were impeded for the most part except for the Kananaskis Range to the north which was spotlighted by vacancies in the clouds, including Mount Buller, Mount Galatea, Gusty Peak
, Mount Engadine, The Fortress, Mount Chester
and Mount Lawson
You have two options. From the Canmore Nordic Center, drive almost to the end of the Spray Lakes/Smith Dorrien Road (gravel) at Kananaskis Lakes. Turn right at signs for the Mount Black Prince Day Use Area. You are guaranteed mountain sheep on the road and once in a blue moon, a moose or two. I saw a moose this day, but coming from the other direction. Watch for hazardous rock fall on the switchbacks above Canmore.
The other option: Take the Kananaskis Highway (Highway 40) exit off of the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary and Canmore. Travel past Kananaskis Park headquarters
and Barrier Lake on your right and continue quite a distance to the intersection with the Kananaskis Lakes Trail road on your right. There will be a winter gate in front of you (closed from December 1-June 15). Turn right and take another right on the Spray Lakes/Smith Dorrien Road. I took a photo (included) of a moose on this stretch of the Spray Lakes/Smith Dorrien Road.
Pull into the Mount Black Prince Day Use Area on the left. There are restrooms at this location.
There are no permit requirements to enter, climb and/or park in Kananaskis Provincial Park.
This is active grizzly country however. Take bear spray. I observed grizzly tracks at the mud flats surrounding Warspite Lake.
There have been numerous 2005 trail closures in Kananaskis due to mountain lions and grizzlies. Therefore it would be prudent to check recent notices posted on the park’s website. The park headquarters is actually located on Highway 40 (Kananaskis Trail) several kilometers south of the Trans-Canada. Notices are posted outside if they are closed. This is a solid information center with good staff and beta.
When To Climb
As with most climbs in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I did the scramble up the west ridge of Mount Warspite in alpine conditions (snow and ice) in September. There are no published backcountry ski routes on Mount Warspite, nor would it be conducive to ski to the summit.
There are campsites galore in the Kananaskis Lakes complex, backcountry and camper sites. You cannot camp outside of the marked specific camping areas in Kananaskis. Refer to the Kananaskis Provincial Park website
for more information regarding camping and/or lodging.
The Kananaskis Provincial Park website
is a very thorough park website, including trail conditions or closures, wildlife notices, weather conditions, avalanche conditions, camping permits, whitewater conditions, etc. It is an excellent source if you are going to spend any time here and comparable to any National Park website I have used. Outside of the parks web site, Canadian Avalanche Association
is also useful, particularly for winter travel. Canadian Alpine Accident Reports
are also extremely useful.
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