Visitors 108
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Distance: 19 km
Elevation gain: 900 m, plus a few minor ups and downs
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Snow Peak, when snow free, is an easy scramble to the north of Burstall Pass. It is apparently named for a large snow patch that tends to hang around near the summit; when present, the final ascent can be dangerous as a slide would send you over some cliffs. Competence with an ice axe can mitigate this risk. Thankfully there was a wide dry path through the snow patch today, making this trip little more than a hike.

The hike and route are straightforward. Beginning at the popular Burstall Pass trailhead on the Smith-Dorrien highway, hike to Burstall Pass on the wide, obvious trail. It's about 7.5 km and 470 m elevation gain (one way) to the pass. The only obstacle en route is the outwash plain of Robertson Glacier at about the 4 km mark. Several streams need to be crossed here, but with waterproof boots and a little jumping it's not difficult. If it is, just de-boot and wade - it's only 6 inches deep, although it's deeper and faster in the afternoon. Currently, just before re-entering the forest, a small pond is encountered where pre-flood there was none; head left a short distance to find a crossing. As you cross this outwash plain, also look ahead to Snow Peak (directly in front of you), if for no other reason than to confirm that it is not nearly as steep as it will appear from Burstall Pass.

After departing the outwash plain and ascending through trees, walking the length of a meadow (be aware of bears!), and ascending through trees again, arrive in Burstall Pass. At the sign in the pass indicating the Banff National Park boundary, survey the route up Snow Peak. It basically starts at the sign and follows the eastern ridge north to the summit. It has become popular enough that in many sections there is an obvious trail, but some common-sense route finding is likely still necessary in spots. From this vantage, however, the route looks impossible to the hiker, appearing to involve several cliff bands and impossibly steep scree. Do not let this intimidate you and remember the earlier view from the outwash plain! There is little to no exposure and only two sections very near the top where you'll need to briefly use your hands (and that part is very easy as well).

From Burstall Pass it took us an hour and a half to reach the summit and the spectacular views in all directions! Bring a topo map to help identify all the peaks in the area.

Categories & Keywords
Category:Lifestyle and Recreation
Subcategory Detail:Hiking
Keywords:Burstall Pass, Kananaskis, Snow Peak, hiking, scrambling