Burns, Mount

elevation: 2,936 m.  height gain: 1,300 m.
area: Kananaskis,AB
map 82 J/10

Ref: Andrew Nugara's More scrambles in the Canadian Rockies 2nd edition
taking the bikes

Taking the iron steeds partway.
Scrambles: RT 19.0; 9.0 up. Mount Burns has been under my radar for quite some time but because of some issues with the approach I kept putting it off. The Sheep River Trail suffered great damage during the 2013 flood and it's never been restore; past the 8-kilometer mark, the trail is practically non-existent. Also, there's been reports of hikers being turned around by the owners of some private property along the trail. For the record, Marta and I never saw any "no trespassing signs" or anybody for that matter! The approach to the main bridge is good; beyond there, multiple creek crossings are encountered. We left our bike about half way (6 km), there seemed to be little advantage of having them at this point; if anything, they slowed us down. The next couple of kilometers weren't too bad as we still followed crude trail segments. The last third of the approach is tedious, we trudged in tall shrubs unable to see the ground; we dealt with unexpected dips, marshes and more creek crossings. When we veered towards the forest to reach the ascent drainage, a trail offered respite from bushwhacking. Once in the targeted drainage, we flagged the trail and had a good break. It was great to finally see the start of our ascent after 4.5 hours. Gaining the highpoint above treeline is straightforward, then, the ridge to the false summit grants the scrambling part of the trip. We stayed off the ridge crest initially and dealt with some minor rockbands and slabs. Further along, near a rock pinnacle, we climbed closer to the ridge proper and circumvented difficulties when we couldn't keep to the ridge crest. The scrambling is delightful, too bad it is so hard to get to. From the false summit, the traverse to the top is simple and quick. At the true summit, we began to look for a wind shadow. It felt cold with the breeze, we put on extra layers and huddled near an outcrop while we ate our lunch. This wasn't what we had planned for this summit stay, we had to postpone our shenanigans for another day. The sky had become increasingly overcast, we suspected it might rain on our way out; this would make an already unpleasant return even more miserable. We took it in strides and enjoyed the mountain; it wasn't worth hurrying, we knew we'd be returning in the dark no matter what. Back in the drainage where we marked the trail section, we took another break before undertaking the worst part of the return. We hoped the trail would save us some hardship but unfortunately it seemed to suddenly peter out so we resumed bushwhacking the valley bottom. We had enough daylight left to backtrack to the trail segments at the 8-kilometer mark. After that, we continued by headlamp. When we reached the bikes, we realized we had lost most of the advantage of having them as it was difficult to bike on the rocky trail in the dark. As we neared the bridge, biking got easier and we finally enjoyed a bit of coasting on the iron steeds. We reached the parking lot past 1 AM after a 19 hour trip. This is a tough adventure, eat your shreddies before heading out!

several creek crossings

Several creek crossings need to be negotiated.
Picture courtesy of Marta Wojnarowska.

acces ridge ahead

After 3 hours, we finally see the access ridge in the distance.

fewer trail segments

As we go further, trail segments are fewer.
Picture courtesy of Marta Wojnarowska.

lost scrambler

Joking about the fate of some poor scrambler getting lost.
Picture courtesy of Marta Wojnarowska.

nearing the ascent slopes

Finally nearing the ascent slopes that lead to the ridge.

gaining treeline

It's a good feeling to be gaining treeline.
Picture courtesy of Marta Wojnarowska.

ridge to false summit

The ridge to the false summit of Mount Burns.


Avoiding difficulties by sidehilling talus slopes.
Picture courtesy of Marta Wojnarowska.

posing in front of a window

Posing in front of a window.
Picture courtesy of Marta Wojnarowska.

fun scrambling

Fun scrambling on the ridge with the rockbands in the background.
Picture courtesy of Marta Wojnarowska.

loose terrain

Climbing loose terrain to breach the rockbands.

above the rockband

Above the rockbands, a short distance away from the false summit.

connecting ridge to summit

The connecting ridge to the true summit.

at the top

At the top of Mount Burns after 9 hours of hiking.
Picture courtesy of Marta Wojnarowska.

view south-east

View south-east over the Sheep River.

limerick for ania

A limerick for Ania.

another fine view

Northern view along The Foothills.

leaving the top

Leaving the top with Mount Rae in the background.

stellar view

Stellar view towards Elpoca and Tombstone Mountains.

marta descending

Marta descending from the false summit.

slabby sections

Some slabby sections.

peering over a drop off

Peering over a sheer drop off.
Picture courtesy of Marta Wojnarowska.

along the ridge

Scrambling along the ridge.
Picture courtesy of Marta Wojnarowska.


More scrambling.
Picture courtesy of Marta Wojnarowska.

nearing treeline

Nearing treeline.
Picture courtesy of Marta Wojnarowska.

bluffs in the trees

Little bluffs well into the trees.

good thing we brought high-heel shoes

Good thing we brought high-heel shoes for this one!!!
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