South Ridge, II, 5.4

Page Type
Alberta, Canada, North America
Route Type:
Spring, Summer, Fall
Time Required:
Most of a day
Rock Difficulty:
5.4 (YDS)

Route Quality: 4 Votes

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South Ridge, II, 5.4
Created On: Sep 7, 2005
Last Edited On: Jul 30, 2006


This is a 3600'+/- ascent day. From your car, descend down the east bank of the Kananaskis River. This is a dam controlled river (even has its own kayaking course) therefore, proceed with extreme caution (this could be called the crux of the climb). This is not necessarily an easy crossing. Once across the river, bushwhack your way to the grassy base of the southeast ridge. You will cross under power lines. Once across a flat meadow like area full of birches, you will start a fast ascent on good ground to the ridge. A faint trail forms on top of the ridge. Continue on easy ground moving onto a ledge system on the right and continue from time to time to regain the ridge where appropriate. Alternative approach if the river is too high: drive further and take the Kananaskis Village turnoff. The road crosses the river, continue and park in the big parking lot on the right, with an old road and a barrier blocking it. Bike or hike down the old road until the base of the ridge.
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Dow Williams Dow Williams Dow Williams Dow Williams Dow Williams

Route Description

After some fun hands on climbing, you find yourself at the first crux (photo above) which is a short and narrow chimney feature on the right side. After the first tight move or two you fall into the problem and it moves well back up to the ridge. There are several hands on areas, but nothing remarkable. Stay to the ridge and eventually you come to the main crux. This is the only spot we used a rope. We pitched it out about 40 meters. There is a gap that used to be filled with a large chock stone that is mentioned in a variety of beta. That feature has since fallen off the ridge. Before you climb down into the gap you will find a relatively new (2005) piton to clip into. There are several old ones across the gap as well. Make a few moves to climb down into the notch and then you have to make an airy step over the gap. Once on the other side, use a nice hand feature to slide across to the base of a steep loose section. Stay on the ridge.

At this next buttress, still on the same pitch out, avoid the temptation to place pro into a crack on the right side. This crack is nothing more than the bottom of a huge piece of ridge that could easily be dislodged. I avoided hanging on to this piece of the buttress and skirted back left over an airy section where I found a placement and then back to the ridge crest itself. You will land on a decent platform on the ridge in which to belay the 2nd.

The ridge goes straightforward after this with maybe another 600-700’ to go. One more crux involves some solid rock ascent straight up a minor wall. There was no summit register in 2005. The interesting views from the summit were the traverse route of Mount Lougheed’s four summits, the extended ridge between Mount Bogart and Mount Sparrowhawk, Mount Kidd, The Wedge, Mount Joffre, and Three Sisters out towards Canmore.

On descent, head down the north ridge between Mount Lorette and an unnamed higher peak (photo included) to a col above a scree field. You can descend on this scree which will lead to a washed out bowl, thus a little trickier ground, or you can ascend the next hump north and catch a longer scree descent with less technical difficulties. We chose the first scree col we came to and descended fairly rapidly through the washed out bowl. Be cautious through this area to not dislodge large sections of crumbly mountain on top of your partner(s). Since there is a certain amount of washed out slab on descent, any rock fall can pick up dangerous speed. Once through the washed out bowl area, you will hook back left into a scree descent and recognizable trail that takes you back down to the power line easement where you simply bushwhack your way back to the river crossing. Remember again, that the volume is controlled, therefore, unpredictable. It could be considerably higher than when you crossed it.

Essential Gear

Old Running Shoes for River Crossing, 50 Meter Rope, Harness, Small Rack consisting of Medium Pro, Several Runners and Biners (I would solo this route if I did it again however), Helmet, Bear Spray, Alpine Ax and Gaiters if Snow is Prevalent

South Ridge, II, 5.4

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