Mount Wintour is a minor, but spectacular, little mountain along the western edge of the Opal Range. The National Topographic System map (82J/11) doesn’t even show a tree line on this mountain, but there is definitely an abundance of rock walls and ridges. The summit reaches 2700 metres (8,858 ft.).
East Face of Mt. Wintour
Although beside the region’s busiest highway (Highway 40), this summit sees few ascents; likely due to the nearby famous rock routes on Mounts Brock and Blane. The northern fringes of Mt. Wintour forms the canyon walls of King Creek which provides a popular ice and mixed climbing crag with a selection of easy and moderate routes.
Named in 1922 for Captain Charles Wintour who was a commanding officer in the Royal Navy onboard the HMS Tipperary during the Battle of Jutland. First ascent September 1968 by G. Boles and E. Peyer via North Ridge.
Easy highway access from Highway 40 along the western edge of the peak 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.
For climbing the North Ridge, park in the King Creek parking lot, opposite the turn off for Kananaskis Lakes, approximately 50 km south of the Trans Canada Highway. The base of the ridge is not too far from the parking area; no formal trail exists, but light bushwhacking quickly gains access to the ridge.
For the South Ridge, park at the gate for the now permanently closed Valleyview Road, approximately 55 km south of the Trans Canada Highway. Hike up Opal Creek, gain north (left) bank and follow good game trails above steep headwall to the upper creek and round Wintour to eastern slopes.
Red Tape / Camping and Bivouacs
Mount Wintour is located in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. No permit is required to park or climb in this park. The ascent of Wintour is easily completed in a day and a bivouac is not required.
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park only allows backcountry camping in designated backcountry campgrounds and no random backcountry camping is allowed. Backcountry camping permits are required at all designated backcountry campgrounds anywhere in Kananaskis Country.
When to Climb
Typical Canadian Rockies situation with July and August providing the best conditions for high elevation climbing. Mt. Wintour’s relatively low elevation extends the summer season and is usually dry from mid April to mid October.
Two climbing routes have been documented on Mount Wintour. Documented routes include:
- North Ridge, Alpine II, 5.4
Line of the first ascent in August 1968. From King Creek head south through light trees to the base of the North Ridge. First 700 m of elevation gains is quick and easy with only steep hiking to approximately 2400 m. The ridge does become steep, but difficulties can be avoided by traversing left (east) of ridgeline if desired. A deep notch presents itself just before the summit, this is where most parties will rope up. Exposed, hard to protect slab climbing into the notch (5.3).
From the notch exposed ridge climbing with the odd step of 5.4 continues onto the main summit. Descent by South Ridge route, then to eastern slopes.
- South Ridge, Alpine II, 5.4
First ascent of this route by D. Gardner and N. Liske in 1977. Head east into upper Opal Creek drainage, then head north to prominent drainage and its northern bank to approximately GR360172 where the grass ends on the eastern slopes of Mt. Wintour. GR denotes Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) National Topographic System of Canada (NTS) grid reference.
From the high point of this grass slope, follow easy gully to notch in the South Ridge, about GR 358172. Continue north along ridge, lots of exposure and lots of loose rock. Difficult scrambling (4 th class rock) provides great views and lots of interesting moves, but watch your holds as the rock quality is very poor.
South Ridge, summit block
A variety of steep ridge and steps leads to the final summit block. Steep slab corner (5.4) just left (west) of ridge crest provides excellent protection for nuts and cams. Once corner ends, turn right up steep and loose gully (5.3) then better quality rock to ridge crest; about 30 metres of climbing. Continue up easy ridge to summit. Descent by South Ridge route, then to eastern slopes.
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