Monarch Ramparts

On 5 December 2020, Kerry Vizbar, Marta Wojnarowska, Zosia Zgolak and I skied up Monarch Ramparts via Healy Creek in Alberta's Banff National Park.  The straightforward route is well-documented in several online trip reports, and we would follow suit with help from a convenient GPS track courtesy of Matthew Hobbs.  Thank you, Matt!  It is worth mentioning that Monarch Ramparts are closed to public access during summer months as noted by the authors of Canadian Rockies Trail Guide and Bob Spirko.  Strangely enough, I can find no mention of this restriction on the official Banff National Park bulletins page.

Starting from Sunshine Village Ski Resort's gondola base, Kerry, Marta, Zosia and I skied along the mundane Healy Creek trail for about 7.5 kilometres until we broke out of the trees and into open meadows roughly 800 metres east of Healy Pass.  Here, we left the main trail and climbed over a low ridge before ascending relatively benign slopes to gain the crest of Monarch Ramparts near their northern end.  Turning southward, we easily followed the broad ridge crest over a couple of minor humps before reaching the rather nebulous high point.  We actually went a little further south until we came across a weathered boundary marker, but a quick check of my GPS showed that it was lower than the high point we passed.  Since we had no intentions of traversing the entire length of Monarch Ramparts, we retreated to the high point where we stopped for a very pleasant lunch break in warm sunshine with barely a hint of wind.

For our return trip, Kerry, Marta, Zosia and I retreated to where we first gained the crest of Monarch Ramparts before taking off our climbing skins.  We then enjoyed an excellent though short-lived descent to the low ridge we had climbed over earlier.  None of us are really into yo-yo skiing, but on this day, this section would have been ideal for it.  Switching back to touring mode, we had no problems following our own tracks back to the main Healy Creek trail.  Aside from a few annoying uphill sections on the way out, our ski back to the gondola base was expeditious and generally trouble-free.
The price of admission. Marta, Zosia and Kerry ski along the uninspiring Healy Creek trail.
Wonderfully mellow terrain for ski touring. Breaking out of the forest, the group makes fresh tracks and aims to climb over the sparsely-treed ridge at left.
But what kind of animal made these? There are numerous animal tracks and burrows in this area.
I was a little surprised that no one had been yo-yo skiing here already. The group reaches the base of Monarch Ramparts.  They will ascend the slope on the right.  Note the rabbit tracks in the foreground.
Easy peasy! The climb to the crest of Monarch Ramparts is relatively gentle.
Most of the hard work is done! The group gains the crest of Monarch Ramparts.
And you can even see the top of Mount Assiniboine from here! The group follows the crest of Monarch Ramparts southward to the high point which is on the rounded ridge at right in front of The Monarch.  The top of Mount Assiniboine barely peeks above the same ridge.
Careful, the marker is not fixed and could easily topple. Located about 300 metres south of the high point of Monarch Ramparts, this marker is the apex of the boundaries for Banff National Park, Kootenay National Park, and Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park.
The actual high point is somewhat ambiguous! Sonny, Zosia, Kerry and Marta stand near the high point of Monarch Ramparts (2418 metres).

If you have a sharp eye, you can also spot Little Copper, Mount Hector, Mount Richardson, and TV Peak.

The view to the north includes such recognizable mountains as Mount Ball (far left), the highest of the Pharaoh Peaks (in front of Mount Ball), Storm Mountain (left of Marta), and Healy Pass Peak (far right).


So many mountains left for me to climb!

Brewster Rock (far left), Twin Cairns (left), Fatigue Mountain (centre), Nasswald Peak (right of centre), Golden Mountain (right), and Mount Sir Douglas (far right) are the most notable peaks across the southeast horizon.


Still need the skins to get over the next hump. The group backtracks along the crest of Monarch Ramparts.
Best skiing of the day right here! Kerry enjoys some nice turns as he descends from the crest of Monarch Ramparts.
If it wasn't for the flat light, we might have considered yo-yoing this slope. Marta follows Zosia down the slope that they ascended earlier.
Ho-ho-ho ho ho! Ho-ho-ho ho ho! Oh, that's the Woody Woodpecker song! This American three-toed woodpecker has been extremely busy stripping the bark off several trees on the side of Healy Creek trail.
Great weather and great company made for a great ski tour! Total Distance:  21.7 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  8 hours
Net Elevation Gain:  753 metres

GPX Data