In 1988, Calgary Alberta hosted of the XV Olympic Winter Games and Mount Allan
was chosen (after much debate, Mount Sparrowhawk
and Mount Shark
were other possible sites because of the extensive snowfall both mountains receive) as the site for the Alpine Skiing Events. Being only 83 km from Calgary, Mt. Allan was the obvious choice. The other locations were surveyed in the Spray Lake Valley (south of Canmore,AB) where snow is in abundence, but the problem was that the road leading to Sparrowhawk and Shark was nothing more than a logging road and still is today. Plus it would add another hour to the drive from Calgary. There are even reminance of ski poles and snow fence on the slopes of Sparrowhawk left by the surveyors in the mid to late 80's.
Starting up the Centennial Trail with Mount Kidd in the background.
The ski resort was named Nakiska Ski Area
and is located on the northern aspect of a the highest elevation of Mount Allan's ridge, Olympic Summit.
*Because of it's significant in Alberta's history most maps have Olympic Summit labelled, but Nakiska Ski Area says that it's resort is on Mount Allan which is also correct.*
There are three mountains in this area, Olympic, Allan and Collembola and together they form a horseshoe-like massif which makes climbing the three in one day plausible. The main attraction other than the ski area are the pinnicle between Olympic and Allan. Check out the Mount Allan page here on summitpost.org to see some of these features.
Olympic Summit stands at 2500 m, a good 300 m lower than Mount Allan which is the high point of the popular Centennial Trail.
On this trail hikers will get some great views of the Kananaskis Valley and can be completed relatively easily through the summer, fall and winter months. The trail is closed from April 1 - June 24 every year due to the location being a prime Bighorn Sheep breeding and lambing grounds.
Looking southwest at the col that connects Bogart and Sparrowhawk.
The summit has two weather station which are linked to Environment Canada
and gathers forecast information for the seasonal residents and tourist of the valley. The summit is also known for high winds and low wind chills during the winter months. It isn't uncommon for winds to hit 120 km an hour and have wind chills of -40 or lower. Event during the summer months high winds can occur. Lots of hats are lost on this trek!
It's no more than a short day trip, west, from Calgary via the Trans Canada Highway (1A). The drive itself won't take you more than an hour. Residence and visitors of Canmore and Banff will also find it a half hour to 40 minute drive east, than south on Highway 40.
The exit to look for on the Trans Canada Highway is Kananaskis Trail (Highway 40 South) which leads to the Kananaskis Village. Some 20 minutes down this road which leads through the Front Ranges of the Canadian Rockies, a traveller will find a sign which reads of information for the Village and Nakiska. Here you will turn right.
Some of the flora that you will pass on the trek to the summit.
After crossing the beautiful Kananaskis River your first left will appear, take this. Now take your first right and you are in the Ribbon Creek Parking lot where you will start you accent of Olympic Summit. After parking, look for the trailhead at the north end of the parking lot. Here you will find some signage on the Centennial Trail. Enter the trail here and keep to your left and avoid crossing the small creek as this is the wrong way.
The trail is initially the trail is marked "Hidden Ski Trail" but later leads into Centennial Trail and to the summit of Olympic Summit.
There are no permits needed when climbing in Kananaskis Country, but with that said Centennial Trail which lead to the summits of Olympic and Allan is closed from April 1 - June 24 every year. This trail and area is a popular breeding and lambing ground for the Bighorn Sheep of the area.
Campsites can be found all around Kananaskis. Your closes bet is Sundance Lodges with campsites and unique lodging in one of its many tipis. Mount Kidd RV Park and Campground located 10 min. to the south on Hwy 40 which has a ton of campsites and a RV area. There is also a hostel located in the Ribbon Creek parking area which will do the trick. For those who want more of a pampering there is the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis located in the village.
Mount Allan (left) and Collembola (right) as seen from the summit of Olympic Summit.
External LinksMount Kidd RV Park and Campsite
- offers the camper over 200 sites, grocery store, pool and hottub.
- has a general store for all your hunger needs as well as dozens of camping sites.
Delta Lodge At Kananaskis
- offers stores, resturants, spa treatment, post office and much more.
Ribbon Creek Hostel
- a quite place for a good rest.
Canadian Medalists From 1988 Winter GamesSilver Medal
- Brian Orser — Figure skating, men's competition
- Elizabeth Manley — Figure skating, women's competition
- Karen Percy — Alpine skiing, women's downhill
- Karen Percy — Alpine skiing, women's Super-G
- Tracy Wilson and Robert McCall — Figure skating, ice dancing