‘Mount Denny’ (GR 338277) is attractive double summit mountain two peaks north of Mt. Evan-Thomas in the Opal Range of Kananaskis Country. The prolific Glen Boles applied the unofficial name of ‘Mount Denny’ to this peak after his team’s (G. Boles, D. Forest and M. Simpson) first ascent of the more northern summit in July of 1973; first ascent of southern summit was by John Martin solo in March 1973. 1973 was the 100 th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, thence Boles’ suggestion.
Cecil Denny was an officer during the famous march west, Denny served as second-in-command at Fort Calgary under Inspector Brisebois and become the commander of F Division, but was forced to leave the force in 1881. Afterwards Denny worked at a number of jobs including Indian Agent and finally, Provincial Archivist. Sir Cecil Denny died in Edmonton on August 24, 1928.
Easy highway access from Highway 40 along the western edge of the Opal Range 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.
Park in the Grizzly Creek parking lot, approximately 44 km south of the Trans Canada Highway. To gain the South West slopes of ‘Mt. Denny’ you need to access upper Grizzly Creek, which can be difficult as there is no official trail and significant elevation gain through dense trees. Once in the upper drainage of Grizzly Creek, head north over a slight pass into upper Rocky Creek and continue north about 1 kilometre from the pass to reach the South West slopes of ‘Mt. Denny’.
When to Climb
Typical Canadian Rockies situation with July and August providing the best conditions for high elevation climbing. ‘Mount Denny’ has relatively low elevation and its position in the dry front ranges extends the summer season and is usually dry from April to late October.
The toughest part of this scramble is the hike up Grizzly Creek. I recommend that when up the creek about 1 km from highway, take the game trails on the north side of the creek. Just as the creek narrows into a tight canyon with a waterfall, an excellent trail presents itself on the left (north) side, take this trail into the upper reach of Grizzly Creek. Once above treeline travel is easy.
Hike northward, past ‘Mt. Potts’ (GR 340267) to the South West slopes of Mt. Denny. About 3 hours takes you to the base of the slope.
Two Summits and SW Slopes of 'Mt. Denny'
- South West Slopes, Alpine I (North and South summits)
South West slope, depending on choice of line of ascent, is class 3 to 4 climbing (moderate to difficult scrambling). Low angle and easier slopes are generally loose scree, with patches of steep slab available to increase the challenge.
|Upper slabs on SW Slopes |
|South Summit from North Summit
Hike northward, past ‘Mt. Potts’ (GR 340267) to the South West slopes of Mt. Denny. About 3 hours takes you to the base of scramble; aim for the obvious short cliff band, above a scree cone, likely to have a snow patch (there was a snow patch on Aug. 27, 2011), a small waterfall, or ice, depending on the time of year.
An easy gully to climber’s right bypasses this overhanging rock band. Once above the band, you have a choice of loose scree, or fun hands on moderate to difficult scrambling, based on line of ascent. I mostly stayed left (north) of the primary gully system and enjoy lots and lots of steep slab with moderate/difficult scrambling most of the way to the southern summit (GPS reading 3003m); about 5.5 hours from the car.
Easy scree and slab northward reaches the northern summit in about 10 – 15 minutes (GPS reading 3000m). Only a register on the southern summit.
On the descent I managed to stay on scree for about 95% of the elevation loss to the rock band. Above the overhanging band I went to skier’s right hoping to stay on scree, but had to downclimb a short difficult section (4 class) then back to the scree cone.
Boles, G.W., Kruszyna R. & Putnam W.L. (1979). The Rocky Mountains of Canada South
. 7 th edition. New York: American Alpine Club, Alpine Club of Canada.
Out of print