Brewster, Mount (Brewski Loop)

elevation: 2,859 m.  height gain: 1,250 m.
area: Banff/Bow Valley,AB
map 82 O/4

The route we took goes north along the 40 Mile Creek Trail passed Cockscomb Campground (FM-10) and Mount Brewster's west-south-west gully (Alan Kane's scrambling route). We ascended the following major west-facing drainage just beyond a remote, unofficial backcountry campsite. From the upper bowl, we climbed moderately steep snow using two gullies to gain the north ridge. The north ridge grants moderate scrambling to the summit. We came down Alan Kane's scrambling route.

leaving the parking lot

Leaving Mount Norquay's parking lot.
Scramble: RT 11.0; 5.75 up. Mount Brewster caught my attention after reading So Nakagawa's trip report. I was waiting for another write up to come out to shed light on the ascent, it was difficult to make out the route and it seemed somewhat complex due to numerous gullies and ridge crossings. When Paul Zizka posted a trip report this spring, it sparked interest in the scrambling community. His account of the outing was appealing, describing the route as straightforward and pleasant. He took advantage of great snow conditions in the gully mentioned in Alan Kane's newest edition. Raff contacted some people, we met early at Norquay's parking lot. Another group of Edmonton scramblers happened to be there as well, I thought they were part of our group. Next thing you know, we had a huge posse of 9 keen scramblers ready to tackle Mount Brewster. I knew almost everyone from the internet or from previous trips. There was a lot of conversing along the approach. We joined and decided to continue north past Kane's gully to ascend a major gully. This undocumented gully appeared straightforward giving access to the summit's north ridge. The advantage of this gully is the continuous snow starting low which minimizes bushwhacking. Beyond the upper bowl, it offers steep snow climbing with the option to scramble rock on the side. I thoroughly enjoyed the ascent on firm snow, the terrain near the top never exceeds 45˚ but it is steep enough to warrant the use of crampons and an axe. Once on the summit ridge, the route reveals itself; all difficulties are bypassed on the west side. During the ascent from the upper bowl, the posse naturally split into smaller groups as some of us preferred to stay on snow. We regrouped on the summit before going down the west ridge. From that ridge, we dipped down into Kane's west-south-west gully. We glissaded the snow-filled gully right until a bare bluffy section. At this interruption, we had to traverse into an adjacent gully to resume our glissade on snow. After the snow, the descent towards the 40 Mile Creek Trail was a bit brushy and steep, it made me appreciate our alternate route up even more. Back on the trail, I hiked in auto-pilot combating nasal congestion and the symptoms of a head cold. Despite that, I was really satisfied with today's adventure; the objective is outstanding and grants spectacular views. Further more, the weather and conditions were great. Also worth mention is how lucky we were that there was no mishaps in our large group and that our ascent route worked out nicely; a perfect outing!

nice break

A nice break at the remote campsite before locating the ascent gully.
Picture courtesy of Brett Hill.

on snow

On snow, my element!
Picture courtesy of Rafal Raffinator.

promising snow gully

This snow-filled gully is looking very promising.

putting on crampons

Putting on crampons.

continuous snow

Amazing snow ascent all the way to the upper mountain.

firm snow

The snow is firm and consolidated.

raff and callum

Raff and Callum are enjoying the ascent.

as good as it gets

As good as it gets!
Picture courtesy of Alison Sekera.

aiming for the middle gully

Aiming for the gully in the middle of the pic then the one to the right of it.

discussing the gullies ahead

Raff and I discussing the gullies ahead.
Picture courtesy of Alison Sekera.

first gully

Engaging the first gully.

looking back

Looking back, the posse is breaking up in smaller groups.

moderately steep

The gully is moderately steep and very pleasant.

raff in hot pursuit

Raff is in hot pursuit.

adjacent gully

We scooted over to the adjacent gully climber's right.

in between gullies

The traverse coming from the first gully.

second gully

Adjacent second gully.

a bit steeper

The second gully is a bit steeper but entirely manageable.

axe and crampons are a must

An alpine axe and crampons are a must here.
Picture courtesy of Rafal Raffinator.

cresting on the snow

I'm cresting at the top end of the gully.
Picture courtesy of Rafal Raffinator.

raff is all smiles

Raff is all smiles, loving this snow climb.

north ridge

The north ridge leads to the summit.

short crux

Negotiating a short crux to breach a rockband.
Picture courtesy of Brett Hill.

brief excitement

A brief moment of excitement.

travel on the ridge

Travel along the north ridge.

more of the same

More of the same.

nearing the summit

Nearing the summit.

last steps

Last steps to the top!

view north

View north along the ascent ridge.

at the top

On the summit.
Picture courtesy of Brett Hill.

banff in the valley below

Mount Rundle and the town of Banff in the valley below.

heading back

Heading back down via the west ridge and Alan Kane's gully to our left .

western view

Western view towards some of Banff's classic scrambles.

mount assiniboine

Mount Assiniboine stands out to the south.

alternate descent

Up a snow gully, down another!

fast way down

Speedy descend no doubt.

glissading contest

Glissading contest.

you better stop

Raff, you better stop!

end of the line

End of the line for now.

traverse to another gully

Traversing to yet another snow-filled gully.

short scramble

Short scramble and we're back on snow.

easy peasy

Easy peasy with a fine view of Mount Louis (left) and Mount Fifi (center).

last glimpse

Last glimpse, it's hard to pick out the route...

alder bashing

Alder bashing is better on the way down.

the posse

The posse, minus myself and Ferenc Jacso.
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