Southwest Ridge

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 50.85798°N / 115.30426°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Summer
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Moderate Scramble
Sign the Climber's Log


This is a 3800’+/- ascent day. Hike into Chester Lake on the Chester Lake Trail, some 44 km south of Canmore on Spray Lakes Road (Smith Dorrien Trail). This is a ski trail approximately 4 km long. The trail has several right turn options, but you need to stick left on the main trail at all times. Eventually it narrows to a single track as it starts to climb steeper ground. You could bike the ski trail to the single track portion if you so desired.

Route Description

The single track is a pleasant hike up about 800' to scenic meadows. As you approach the lake, your view opens up across meadows to the right. You see Mount Chester and a clear saddle on its right shoulder (southwest). Break away from the trail well before it arrives at Chester Lake and cross the lake outlet, meadows and some forest to start the gain to the saddle. This will be an uneventful 1100’ of scree, welcomed on descent. You can find firmer ground if you stay climbers right where mountain sheep cut out decent steps. Once at the col, head straight up the southwest ridge of Chester (left), skirting any real difficulties, dealing with loose large scree and finding firm rock at times. This is uneventful scrambling the whole day. You return the same.

There is a register at the summit and terrific views give way to Mts. Joffre, Assiniboine and Sir Douglas. This is a quick one to have in your back pocket if you are short on time. I ran across a bear closure on another peak I planned this day, so backed into this scramble. There are plenty of pikas at 7700', a Canadian Rocky treat (if you can catch one). Enjoy the lake on return and soak the dogs. This is great wildflower country as well.

Essential Gear

Helmet, Gaiters for Scree and/or Snow, Alpine Ax if Snow



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