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.).
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. Mt. Wintour’s relatively low elevation extends the summer alpine rock season and is usually dry from April to mid October.
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 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.
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.
Opal Creek intersects the old Valleyview road just above Highway 40. The Valleyview road was recently closed to vehicle traffic to protect Grizzly Bear habitat. This old paved road is gated about 200 metres after leaving the main highway, park alongside the old road. Hike pass the gate, approaching the Opal Creek bridge.
|gated road |
|start of trail |
|high north bank trail
Just before the bridge, turn left, north, onto the north bank of Opal Creek. Just off the pavement, the trail follows the north bank a very short distance (10 metres or so) then the trail climbs steeply out of the creek and heads north, just above the creek. After a short distance in the trees, the trail rises along the steep north bank of Opal Creek. Follow this obvious and well worn trail up to the scree slopes below the cliff band that forms Opal Falls. The obvious trail continues in the scree, heading north, below the cliff band for about 400 metres to the base of wide and loose gully that breaks the cliff band. Bash up loose dirt and rock into the narrowing gully, as you near trees on the right, head towards them for more solid ground. Once above the rocky rib on your right, work your way up low angle rock and scree into the trees above. An excellent, well worn trail begins above in the trees, first on the narrow crest of a rocky rib. This excellent trail heads up Opal Creek on the north bank.
|traverse below band |
|view up access gully |
|above access gully
Continue on good trails to round obvious steep rock buttress on south end of Wintour. Continue rounding north to intersect drainage from East Ridge of Mt. Wintour then up steep scree/dirt combo to East Ridge about GR360172. GR denotes Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) National Topographic System of Canada (NTS) grid reference.
Route DescriptionSouth Ridge, Alpine II, 5.4
East side high col
First ascent of this route by D. Gardner and N. Liske in 1977. Where grass slopes end, head up East Ridge, slightly to right, up easy gully (looks steeper than it really is) and continue up gully to 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.
Typical terrain on South Ridge
About 120 horizontal metres from the summit. A steep rise in the ridge blocks easy travel.
|crux photo |
|crux photo/topo |
Left of the centre of the ridge, a slab meets a steep wall, a good crack provided a belay station with bomber nuts or cams. Easy slab climbing (5.4) with good protection, with nuts, for 10 metres, then the line tended right onto easy ground (5.3), but no protection until a short corner. Climb short corner (5.4), with sketchy pro to easy ground above (30 metres from belay). Belay off rock piles, some more solid than others.
Easy scrambling to summit. About 4 hours from the parking lot. Descend the same route. Rappel or downclimb 30 metre crux.
Climbing rope of 30 metres or more; 60 metres useful for full rappel. Full set of wires or cams, mostly #5 and larger. 6 to 8 slings or long draws. We used only wires and natural protection.