The Turret
Taking advantage of a great weather forecast on 18 July 2020, I headed out to Alberta's Peter Lougheed Provincial Park for a solo ascent of The Turret.  Although there are numerous trip reports for The Turret published online (the earliest of these by So Nakagawa in February 2010), apparently none of them utilize the approach described by Alan Kane in his guidebook, Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies.  Granted, most of the online reports were posted before Kane's latest edition came out in 2016, but having the utmost faith in Kane, I decided to give his route description a shot.  I even carefully read it for a change!

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.
Pick a nice weather day to ensure the payoff will be worth the sufferfest to come! The view across Upper Kananaskis Lake from the trailhead will be the last far-reaching view for the next several hours.
Watch where you step; some idiot left a pile of poop with toilet paper on top not far from the lakeshore trail. Alan Kane advises to stay to climber's left of this stream while bushwhacking uphill.
Don't worry; there's more bushwhacking to come later! A well-defined trail materializes higher up the slope.
Wow. 17 years have passed since I climbed Mount Fox! Mount Fox comes into view on the eastern slopes of The Turret.
Very faint! Sonny follows a faint game trail across the slope.
Need to keep traversing here... Ahead is the eastern outlier of Mount Foch.  Note the rock bands at right which need to be circumvented to ascend The Turret.
It's like finding your way through an uphill maze! Route-finding on the southeastern slopes of The Turret is challenging because of strips of krummholz like this one.
It's a steep grunt. Ugh. Even without krummholz, the southeastern slopes are still relentlessly steep.
Still some climbing left, but it's all pretty easy from here. Sonny finally gains the crest of The Turret's south ridge.
And that impressive cliff too! There is already a stunning view of Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes from the south ridge.
Thumbs up for the view! Sonny holds up the register canister on the summit of The Turret (2566 metres).
Looks like a mountaineering route... To the southwest is the connecting ridge to Mount Foch (right).
Very quiet over there because the trail to Rawson Lake was closed due to bear activity. Rawson Ridge looks verdant to the west.  The highest peak on the right horizon is Mount Sir Douglas.

Anybody wanna give me a million bucks for this?

This is the million-dollar view of Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes from the top of The Turret.


I still have a few peaks to tag there... The peaks of the Opal Range stretch across the horizon to the northeast.
More Kane peaks than you can shake a stick at! Visible across Elk Pass to the east are Mount Rae, Mount Pocaterra, Storm Mountain, Mount Tyrwhitt, and Mist Mountain.
Alberta Parks should build a trail into this amazing cirque! Here is a more comprehensive view of Mount Fox to the south.  Note the partially frozen tarn at lower right.
Definitely not "moderate scrambling" terrain! 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.
Token flower picture! Indian paintbrushes are just a sample of the many wildflowers found on the eastern slopes of The Turret.
The outstanding summit view makes up for the bushy approach. Total Distance:  10.4 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  8 hours 29 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  851 metres

GPX Data