Storm Mountain (not to be confused with the Storm Mountain
in Banff National Park) is part of the Misty Range located in the Highwood Pass region of Kananaskis Provincial Park which encompasses over 4,000 square kilometers of foothills and mountains bordering Banff National Park in the central Canadian Rockies. Like the Storm Mountain in Banff National Park though, Storm Mountain, Kananaskis, was officially named in 1884 by Dr. Dawson because it was shrouded by storm clouds for much of the time he was camped below it. He named both mountains the same name for the same reason in the same year and both names were officially accepted. Storm Mountain shares the Misty Range with Mount Arethusa and Mount Rae
and sits directly east of the Elk Range consisting of Mount Pocaterra and Mount Tyrwhitt
The only published route up Storm Mountain is the moderate scramble via its larch filled southwestern slopes to the more challenging south ridge. It is a short day scramble due to its proximity to Highway 40. You are treated to northwestern views of the Royal Group, including Mount Sir Douglas
. In my opinion, this Highwood Pass region serves up the most scenic and accessible high alpine foliage in all of the Canadian Rockies as well as has an abundance of mountain sheep.
Take the Kananaskis Trail (Highway 40) exit off of the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary and Canmore. Drive to 4.4 km past the Highwood Meadows Interpretive Trail parking area at Highwood Pass. Park at a pullout on the right for the Lost Lemon Mine. Kananaskis Trail is closed from December 1 through June 15, and I do mean with a gate. The closure is at Kings Creek (Canyon), meaning no access to any of the Highwood area mountains prior to June 15th, except by ski or bike.
There are no permit requirements to enter, climb and/or park in Kananaskis Provincial Park.
This is active grizzly country however. Take bear spray. As of July, 2005, we have current trail closures in this area of Kananaskis due to a mountain lion (protecting its kill) and grizzly with cubs (bluff charge).
Therefore it is prudent to check recent notices posted on the bulletin board outside of park headquarters which you drive by on Highway 40 (Kananaskis Trail). If they are open, check in with the ranger staff, they have tons of beta and are always friendly.
When To Climb
As with most climbs in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I climbed Storm Mountain in August of 2004 and was faced with high winds, cold temperatures and considerable snow on the final summit ridge making Storm more of a difficult scramble. There are no published backcountry ski routes on Storm Mountain nor would I suspect this to be a mountain worth trying to put up a ski route. (again, not to be confused with Storm Mountain
in Banff National Park , which is an outstanding backcountry ski summit)
CampingThe closest camping is a backcountry site at Elbow Lake, 1.3 km in on Big Elbow Trail several kilometers south off of Hwy 40.
There are tons of camping options further north at Kananaskis Lakes. You cannot camp outside of the marked specific camping areas in Kananaskis. Refer to the Kananaskis Provincial Park website
for more information regarding camping and/or lodging.
The Kananaskis Provincial Park website
is a very thorough park website, including trail conditions or closures, wildlife notices, weather conditions, avalanche conditions, camping permits, whitewater conditions, etc. It is an excellent source if you are going to spend any time here and comparable to any National Park website I have used. Outside of the parks web site, Canadian Avalanche Association
is also useful, particularly for winter travel.
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