North West Ridge on Fisher Peak, Kananaskis 5.3

Page Type
Route
Location:
Alberta, Canada, North America
Route Type:
Scrambling
Season:
Summer, Fall
Time Required:
A long day
Difficulty:
Summit ridge is Class 3 and 4 with 3 downclimbs of low Class 5
Rock Difficulty:
5.3 (YDS)
Grade:
II

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North West Ridge on Fisher Peak, Kananaskis 5.3
Created On: Aug 18, 2008
Last Edited On: Jul 3, 2018

Overview

This is described in the guidebook as a climbers scramble and is one of the hardest scrambles in Alan Kane’s book. The crux step and two other steps are downclimbed on the way up. The summit ridge is class 3 and 4 with the downclimbs being class 4 with sections up to YDS 5.3. A rope, protection and the ability to use them properly is recommended for anyone who is not comfortable scrambling class 4 and easy class 5 routes.
The round trip is about 28 kilometers(17.5 miles) and 1570 meters(5150 ft) of elevation gain. We took 14 hours but there are reports of 10 to 18 hours.


Unroped scrambling is a dangerous activity and everyone should read the complete introductory section of Alan’s book before rushing off to do any scramble. As with many other scrambles books, Kane's scrambles rating system is unique to his book (and to the Canadian Rockies) so take the time to relate it to your experience level. Always scramble well within your abilities and be prepared to back off if you are unsure of your route, the conditions or your abilities. You are responsible for the consequences of your decisions.


Getting There

Travel west from Calgary on the Trans Canada Highway #1 for 45 minutes. Turn South on highway #40 for 30 kilometers(x miles) to the Evan – Thomas Creek turn off which is on the left (East) just past the turn off for the golf course.


Mountain bike the trail which starts along the left side of the Evan – Thomas Creek. The trail is used by horses and is covered with rounded river rocks to head sized. The trail crosses the main creek many times as well as various side creeks. There is a campground(horse packers)that you pass as well. A GPS is usefull as you are travelling along the bottom of valleys so it is hard to locate where to leave the trail.


Route Description

NOTE - Approach changed  with floods in 2013. Approach along Evan-Thomas Creek on trail. Leave your bikes before fork in the creek versus at the last main creek crossing which is the bottom of the last hill. Previously it was easiest to leave the trail close to the highest point on the trail which is 2 to 300 m past the large drainage coming off the North West ridge. See map.
We left the trail near highpoint of trail at waypoint 7.This is farther along the trail than recommended by either guidebook but we successfully guessed it to be a faster and easier approach before the flood damage to trail.  Travel upward on a ridge through trees. Waypoint 8 is the Brown Point, Waypoint 9 is on NW ridge, Waypoint 10 is West summit and waypoint 11 is Summit.

NEW -
As of 2018 choice now is cross creek and go up West end of ridge on rubble(Kane route) or go left up creekbed and access the col in ridge by a drainage from the NW. 
See map



Fisher Peak Kananaskis - new map

Fisher Peak Kananaskis - new map




South side access - Bushwack up hill on a treed ridge until come out on brown shale which leads to a brown point. Ignore the open slopes beside the treed ridge as they are broken talus rubble and more difficult to go up.

Brown Point on Fisher Peak

South side access - Downclimb point or go around and pound rubble up to ridge. Follow ridge to West summit. Picture shows Brown point in lower right and Northwest ridge leading to summit ridge.

The Northside access to ridge- follow left creekbed to a grassy drainage that comes up at the saddle or low point in middle of ridge - shaded/sun boundary on pic.

Major advantage is to bypass rubble on lower ridge so easier up and down.

Fisher Peak, Kananaskis

Summit ridge showing downclimbs. Main summit on Left and
Lower West summit on right. See the final picture by Ferenc Jacso for perspective on the elevation differences between the summits.

Fisher Peak

Downclimb crux step (25 m with route finding problems) and follow summit ridge downclimbing steps and crossing slabs and scree to summit.

Fisher Peak, Kananaskis

Next downclimb with crux in background. We went up the nose of the crux on the way back which was maybe more exposed but more straight forward than the Kane route. The nose can also be downclimbed.

Fisher Peak

Another downclimb. Picture was actually taken on the way down when he was climbing up this but he still should have put his poles away. The telephoto makes it look steeper than reality.

Fisher Peak

Descent


Retrace your steps back along the ridge. You get to climb up the steps and the crux which is easier than the down climbing. We went straight up the nose of the crux versus the recommended Kane route. This was maybe more exposed but not really much harder.
It is shortest and easiest to go back down over the brown point and down through the trees to the trail and your bikes. Do not be tempted by the rock fields which are rubble which is slower and hard on ankles.


Great picture by Ferenc Jacso which shows the downclimbs along the summit ridge and the whole NW route including the brown point in the lower right of the picture. The true angle on the downclimbs is not as vertical as the climbing pictures make them look. Note the elevation difference along the summit ridge between the west summit and the final summit.


Fisher Peak from Mt Bogart taken June 15, 2008

Telephoto shot of summit ridge from the East from Mount Romulus which shows the downclimbs.

Fisher Peak - Summit Ridge/Downclimb detail


Essential Gear


Mountain bike with at least front shocks required for approach unless you do a two day trip.


Standard scrambling gear. Boots, poles, pack, helmet, etc.

We did not take a rope or any protection and saw no fixed gear or slings on route. Some people may feel more comfortable with a rope and some protection.


External Links


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North West Ridge on Fisher Peak, Kananaskis 5.3

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