Kane's approach starts from the Upper Kananaskis Lakes trailhead, and the parking lot was already teeming with people when I arrived late in the morning (I had a personal commitment earlier in the day). Joining the hordes of hikers on the lakeshore trail, I passed a small clearing on the left about 150 metres from the trailhead sign, but this did not seem to fit Kane's description of "a tiny water trickle with a bit of animal trail on its left". Instead, I continued along the lakeshore trail for another 150 metres before I came across the described feature. Without dwelling too long on the insanity of eschewing a perfectly good trail to go plunging into dense forest, I started up the animal trail which soon petered out in the mossy carpet adjacent to the water trickle. Actually, the trickle was more like a tumbling stream. As Kane promised, the worst of the bushwhacking is during the first few hundred metres of elevation gain, and even then, I did not think it was too bad except for getting my feet wet due to lingering moisture from recent rains. I stayed to climber's left of the stream as Kane suggested and generally tried to follow the path of least resistance while climbing steadily uphill.
About 170 metres (of elevation gain) up the
slope, I stumbled onto a remarkably good trail which led to a plateau of
sorts to the west of Blueberry Hill. The trail peters out in the
plateau, but the forest is open enough to allow for fairly easy travel.
I actually stumbled onto the wide Blueberry Hill ski trail at one point,
but knowing that I had to veer further west, I did not follow the trail
for very long before plunging back into forest. Completely missing
the "open meadow corridor at 331066" described by Kane, I was a bit
off-route at this point and endured some moderate bushwhacking while
aiming for the "east side of the peak at about 330056". When I
eventually emerged from the forest, I found myself under some significant
cliff bands guarding the east side of The Turret. I began
traversing to climber's left on faint game trails and ascending where
feasible. This entailed some more thrashing through a few
unavoidable sections of forest which abut the cliff bands. Even
after circumventing the majority of the cliff bands, I had some more
challenges weaving through the numerous hedgerow-like krummholz.
Fortunately, the passage of previous scramblers has created a few tight
corridors that allow upward progress. Clearing the last of these
obstacles, I still had a bit of a grunt left to reach the ridge crest,
but there were no more route-finding difficulties the rest of the way to
the summit. Given the jaw-dropping views and the fabulous weather,
I extended my stay at the summit to well over an hour.
On descent, I carefully retraced my steps back along the ridge crest and down the steep slopes through the krummholz. While traversing northward across the east side of The Turret, I hoped to avoid some of the thrashing I encountered during my ascent by staying a little higher up the slope, but by doing so, I ended up above a scary cliff band which was maybe about 25 metres high. Loath to backtrack, I took a quick peek downward and felt that I could safely down-climb this cliff band by following a series of ledges, ramps and short drop-offs. As it turned out, there were definitely a couple of tense moments mostly because my bulky pack forced me into some awkward positions while descending, but in the end, I managed to slither down the cliff band in one piece. From the bottom of the cliff band, I continued to traverse northward and soon began descending into the forest on more gentle slopes.
Back on the plateau, I meandered a bit following various shallow drainages and game trails, but fortunately, my GPS kept me from straying too far. I eventually regained the good trail that I picked up during my ascent, and I thought that it might lead me easily back down to the lakeshore trail. Unfortunately, the trail appears to traverse eastward high above and well past the Upper Kananaskis Lakes trailhead, and I ultimately abandoned it to drop down a mossy gully. Initially, this gully was very easy to descend, but toward the bottom, I began encountering more toothpick deadfall. Thankfully, this bit of unpleasant bushwhacking was short-lived, and I soon popped out into the small clearing I passed near the start of the trip.
In retrospect, I think Kane's approach for
The Turret is perfectly reasonable. The bushwhacking is moderate at
worst and is certainly not sustained. Also, there is no need for a
boring walk along the long-winded ski trails (ie. Kane's approach is
significantly shorter). I can see some merit in using a bicycle for
the approach on the ski trails; the ride out would be a blast.
However, for those who are not so keen on mountain biking or the
associated logistics of transporting bicycles, Kane's approach would make
the most sense. This is the million-dollar view of Upper and Lower
Kananaskis Lakes from the top of The Turret.
The view across Upper Kananaskis Lake
from the trailhead will be the last far-reaching view for the next
Alan Kane advises to stay to climber's left of this stream while
A well-defined trail materializes higher up the slope.
Mount Fox comes into
view on the eastern slopes of The Turret.
Sonny follows a faint game trail across the slope.
Ahead is the eastern outlier of Mount Foch. Note the rock bands at
right which need to be circumvented to ascend The Turret.
Route-finding on the southeastern slopes of The Turret is challenging
because of strips of krummholz like this one.
Even without krummholz, the southeastern slopes are still relentlessly
Sonny finally gains the crest of The
Turret's south ridge.
There is already a stunning view of Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes from
the south ridge.
Sonny holds up the register canister on the summit of The Turret (2566
To the southwest is the connecting ridge to Mount Foch (right).
looks verdant to the west. The highest peak on the right horizon is
Mount Sir Douglas.
The peaks of the Opal Range stretch across the horizon to the northeast.
Visible across Elk Pass to the east are
and Mist Mountain.
Here is a more comprehensive view of Mount Fox to the south. Note
the partially frozen tarn at lower right.
This is looking back at a cliff band that Sonny had to down-climb when he
tried to avoid the bushy route he used on his approach.
Indian paintbrushes are just a sample of the many wildflowers found on
the eastern slopes of The Turret.
Distance: 10.4 kilometres
Round-Trip Time: 8 hours 29 minutes
Net Elevation Gain: 851 metres
This is the million-dollar view of Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes from the top of The Turret.