Pilot Traverse

Page Type
Alberta, Canada, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
A long day
Difficult Scramble

Route Quality: 3 Votes

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Pilot Traverse
Created On: Sep 18, 2005
Last Edited On: Feb 20, 2006


The full ascent of both Mount Brett and Pilot Mountain is an 8200’+/- ascent day. (I recorded 8400’+ total on my altimeter.) The ascent portion attributed to summit Mount Brett, after you descend Pilot Mountain by several thousand feet, is 2800’+/-. I am only going to give my version of the traverse as that is what I did. Most summit Mount Brett as a separate objective from Pilot Mountain and would have a more thorough explanation of the approach from Redearth Creek Trail.
Dow Williams Dow Williams Dow Williams Dow Williams Dow Williams

Route Description

After descending Pilot Mountain’s summit back to the chimney, continue to descend the easier scree directly down to the glen to avoid more difficult talus slopes to your left. Once down to level ground, head south for Mount Brett over volcanic barren rockscape keeping Mount Brett’s northwestern ridge in sight. I took the first break (which I clearly observed on my descent of Pilot) through a significant rock band on the southern slopes of Pilot . Once I gained the northwest ridge of Mount Brett, I could clearly see there were two more opportunities contouring further southeast. After studying all three options from this bird's eye point of view, I recommend descending the second break you come too. It looks to have a fast descent, avoids bush and sets you up at a higher elevation to start your Mount Brett ascent.

After descending through the rock band, I descended on quick scree and contoured above tree line to the left to avoid losing any more elevation than I had to. Looking across to the northwest ridge of Mount Brett, you will clearly see a dip in the ridge. This is your target to gain the ridge. I eventually descended down into the grassy basin seeping drainage from Mount Brett’s north face and shot back through tree line on the opposing slopes to gain the dip in the ridge at about 8100’. Follow this ridge to the summit. At first the ground is incredibly easy, but the last 400’ is quite the hands on challenge and serves as the crux of this scramble. Several breaks in the ridge are met head on. There is little relief and at moments the ridge is razor thin.

There was a summit register on Mount Brett on 2005, despite not being one on Pilot Mountain. The summit views included Pilot Mountain, Massive Mountain, Copper Mountain, the Goodsirs including North and South Towers, Mount Ball, Isabelle Peak , Mount Bourgeau, Mount Assiniboine and Mount Joffre. You are also treated to a broad view down the Bow Valley towards Banff.

Now for the tricky part:
I had little to go by for descent but knew the western slope looked fast so I took it, dropping 1000’ in a hurry, but also knew I needed to contour around the west back to the north. There is an obvious col I noticed while ascending and it soon came into clear view thus I angled over to it. Some of this traverse is not the best ground, but the quick descent versus having to return the ridge made it worth it. Once back at the col, you have choices. Continue to contour around north on a trodden sheep trail to where I gained the ascent ridge to begin with or drop down towards Lost Horse Creek and bushwhack your way north to Redearth Creek Trail. I opted for the new experience of Lost Horse Creek.

Once down to tree line, I followed a drainage which led to Lost Horse Creek and then I turned right and followed the creek close until eventually I found a faint animal trail that gained some ground above the bank on the right side and took me on a slow journey through fallen logs, etc. to where Copper Mountain came into full view. I then descended and hiked due north to catch Redearth Creek at a decrepit log cabin structure. When I came onto the trail, I was over 3kms further west than my bike and it was approaching dark, but this trail is wide and clear making the journey uneventful back to the trailhead. I believe either descent option, both northwestern valleys, will require the same amount of time.

Essential Gear

Alpine Ax (if snow prevails), Helmet, Bear Spray, Gaiters (for descent), Fairly Dry Route therefore Plenty of Water.

Pilot Traverse

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