Distance: 7.5 km
Elevation gain: 1080 m View map Download GPS track Turtle Mountain
is the site of one of Canada's largest natural disasters. On the night of April 29, 1903, a portion of the mountain measuring 1000 m x 450 m x 150 m and weighing over 80 million tons collapsed and buried much of the town of Frank, killing nearly 100 people. The mountain, which had resembled the gently curved back of a turtle, was transformed into two summits separated by a jagged and fractured scar where the middle had simply fallen away. While today the mountain is considered to be at risk of another slide and is thus covered with scientific monitoring equipment, it nevertheless is a popular day hike.
Today Sandra and I decided it would make a nice hike for us, and after navigating to the trailhead parking area using the directions in Alan Kane's scrambling guide
we easily found the trail and started hiking up the steep slope. The trail was in very good shape the entire way to the north summit, and while it was particularly steep in the beginning the grade moderated after about 300 m of ascent.
Continuing to the true south summit, however, involved particularly challenging routefinding and about 100 m of elevation loss. The mountain is fractured on a scale that is difficult to comprehend and enormous boulders and ridges blocked our view forward. I spent a lot of time probing one route after another trying to find one that would work for Sandra, often being blocked by cliffs or crevasses, and it ended up taking us nearly an hour to cover that one kilometer. A cold wind made moving so slow a bit unpleasant, but it was amazing to see the geological destruction in the area.
After a lengthy wander around the south summit we started back down, moving through the fracture zone about twice as fast as on the way up, and then quickly made our way back down to the car. A great hike to cap off a 3-summit weekend!