Mount Chester

Featured photo of Mount Chester

Mount Chester belongs to the long Kananaskis Range located just north of Kananaskis Lakes in the center of Kananaskis Country, a provincial park which encompasses over 4,000 square kilometers of foothills and mountains bordering Banff National Park in the central Canadian Rockies. Mount Chester shares the range with many other climbs including: Gusty Peak, Mount Engadine, The Fortress, Mount Galatea and Mount Lawson.

Mount Chester is one of the more common scrambling objectives in Kananaskis Provincial Park due in part to Chester Lake being one of the more popular day hike destinations. Mount Chester was named after a WW I battleship which is common for peaks in this section of Kananaskis. It is an easy scramble by Canadian Rocky standards. The only published route is the scramble route.

The same access, Chester Lake Trail, can be used to access a variety of scrambles including The Fortress, Mount Galatea and Gusty Peak. Directly across Spray Lakes Road is the common Burstall Pass Trail with access to Mount Murray and Mount Burstall. The views are far reaching in this section of Kananaskis. Directly southwest you have uninterrupted views of Mount Sir Douglas.

Getting There

From the Canmore Nordic Center, drive 40kms+/- south on the Spray Lakes/Smith Dorrien Road (gravel). Turn left at a sign for the Chester Lake day use parking lot. You are almost guaranteed mountain sheep on the Spray Lakes Road and if you are lucky a moose or two. I witnessed a moose and her calf cross the road about 3kms past Goat Creek Trail. I saw this same female without a calf two years prior. Watch for hazardous rock fall on the switchbacks above Canmore. At times this road will be closed due to rock and/or mud slides. There are restrooms at the Chester Lake day use parking lot.

Red Tape

There are no permit requirements to enter, climb and/or park in Kananaskis Provincial Park. This is active grizzly country however. Take bear spray. There have been numerous 2005 trail closures in Kananaskis due to mountain lions and grizzlies. Therefore it would be prudent to check recent notices posted on the park’s website. The park headquarters is actually located on Highway 40 (Kananaskis Trail).

When To Climb

As with most climbs in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I scrambled Mount Chester in September and the route was mostly dry. There are no published backcountry ski routes on Mount Chester.

Camping

Kananaskis officials have closed all camping at Chester Lake. The closest camping is located back at the north end of Spray Lakes Reservoir across the dam at random campsites marked on the west shore of the lake. 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. A premium accommodation is the Engadine Lodge (back at Mount Shark road) which is only several kilometers north.

Mountain Conditions

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. Canadian Alpine Accident Reports is also extremely relevant. (One of the most positive accident reports of all time)

Elevation (feet): 10,020
Elevation (meters): 3,054
Continent: North America
Country: Canada
Range/Region: Canadian Rockies
Province: Alberta
Latitude: 50.8
Longitude: -115.267
Difficulty: Scramble
Nearest major airport: Calgary
Convenient Center: Canmore, AB

Thanks to Craig Knelsen for adding this peak.

Trip Reports

NOTE: Trip reports were previously called "Summit Logs" - same feature, new name

There are 9 trip reports for Mount Chester.

Select any entry from the list below:

  • Log #20927 - by Daniel M. McGregor on Aug 03, 2007
    Beautiful view at the top. Easy scramble.
  • Log #19119 - by Dow Williams on Feb 14, 2006
    This is a 3800’+/- ascent day. Hike into Chester Lake on the Chester Lake Trail, some 44 km south of Canmore on Spray Lakes Road (Smith Dorrien Trail). This is a ski trail approximately 4 km long....
  • Log #13729 - by Tim L. Helmer on Oct 12, 2003
    As with most scrambles in the Canadian Rockies this one does not disappoint. It's good a good trail on the approach to Chester Lake and then a slope of scree to a col. From there its scrambling to...
  • Log #13730 - by Sheldon on July 31, 2003
    Me and my Dad ditched everyone and decided to head up chester. It was very cool but a little easy when we were 200m from the summit a storm appeared on the horizon and it was coming in fast so we...
  • Log #13731 - by Bruce Dunbar on Feb 16, 2002
    A very good scramble with a rewarding view from the summit. Mt. Galatea, The Fortress, Gusty Peak just to name a few. Large, solid talus and slab climbing from the col to the summit. From Chester...
  • Log #13732 - by Ryan Simpson on Aug 22, 2001
    A great scramble, well worth the effort. The drainage valley up to the col was clear of snow and had everyone puffing at the top. After the col is reached it is a moderate scramble to the summit a...
  • Log #13733 - by Kyle Oak on Dec 03, 2000
    Excellent peak. The gully going up to the col was great for practicing "step kicking" and on descent was also great for glissading. This was my first peak over 10,000 ft. and held a great...
  • Log #13734 - by Kevin B. Barton on Feb 23, 2000
    In my slowly evolving, but always exciting, mountaineering career this peak has a special place. It was my first solo summit and also my first solo 10,000 feet plus peak. I scrambled in perfect...
  • Log #13735 - by Craig Knelsen on Feb 21, 2000
    From the trail head, I followed a moderate incline up old logging roads, passing by the old parking lot, until a footpath was reached. The narrow twisting trail ascends through spruce forest for...