Mount Lyautey
On 1 August 2016, Rafal (Raff) Kazmierczak invited me to join him and Andrea Battistel for an ascent of Mount Lyautey in Alberta's Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.  Although a route is described in the 3rd Edition of Alan Kane's Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, Raff proposed climbing a slightly different route that was used by Kevin Barton in 2009.  Starting from North Interlakes trailhead, we biked the first four kilometres of trail to the Invincible Lake turnoff and then continued on foot for about three kilometres to a washed-out area of the forest where we could see our objective to the south.  Leaving the trail here, we headed south over rubble along the east side of a creek until we reached a headwall with a very striking waterfall.  Kane is a bit vague about how he surmounted this headwall, but we chose to go up a series of narrow grassy ledges further to climber's right.  The terrain here was more exposed than we were expecting, and a lot of the rock slabs were wet and dangerously slippery.  With some difficulty, we managed to clear the headwall (probably the crux of the entire ascent), and we continued to climb up easier terrain until we reached the toe of Lyautey Glacier.

While Kane ascended the moraine to the east of Lyautey Glacier, we ascended mostly snow on the eastern margin of the glacier.  Nearing the head of the glacier, we turned left up a vast scree slope leading to an obvious gully higher up.  My first impression of the scree slope ahead of us was, "This is gonna suck!"  As we started climbing though, the scree turned out to be not as bad as I was expecting, and we took advantage of some shallow seams where the rubble was more stable.  Above the scree slope, we entered a broad gully that consisted of mainly Class 3 terrain leading to some chutes below the summit ridge.  Raff and Andrea were well ahead of me and inadvertently turned up a chute that was icy and perhaps a little too steep for their comfort.  They floundered here, and when I caught up to them, I told them to wait while I checked out the far side of a rock rib to climber's left of their chute.  I found a steep and loose ramp here, but it looked quite reasonable to ascend.  I notified Raff and Andrea, who were already descending from their chute, to follow me up.  The ramp runs up to the summit ridge, and it is a short and easy scramble from there to the summit.

The surrounding views from the summit were extraordinary on this day, and we spent well over an hour up there before reluctantly commencing our descent.  The upper mountain is extremely loose, and we had to be careful not to rain rocks down on each other as we descended.  We managed to get down to the glacier safely and enjoyed an easy walk back to the top of the headwall.  While Raff and Andrea more or less descended our original ascent route up the headwall, I was curious enough to try another route closer to the waterfall.  Although I was able to down-climb a steep chute here, I would not recommend this sketchy route.  The lower part of this route also entails descending a rubble-filled gully with hard-packed dirt. I actually lost my footing here and slid several metres before arresting myself with my bare hand (got a few bloody scratches).  The rest of the descent back to the trail was uneventful.  After hiking back to the Invincible Lake turnoff, we picked up our bikes and rock' n' rolled back to the trailhead to finish off a fantastic outing with equally fantastic company.
Oh, so that's Lyautey! Never noticed it before! Although the bulk of Mount Lyautey sits across Upper Kananaskis Lake, the summit is not visible from this vantage point.
The bike ride is not as easy as you might expect... Andrea and Raff start by biking toward Mount Indefatigable.
Mount Putnik looks like a long slog. So does Mount Worthington! Andrea and Raff hike below Mount Putnik.  Mount Worthington is visible through the gap at left.
No need to bushwhack for this scramble. Yay! Mount Lyautey is just barely visible at left.  This is a good place to leave the trail and head south.
Doesn't look so bad from here... Raff and Andrea hike up the creek.  Their eventual ascent route up the headwall is straight ahead at centre.
On my descent, I came down one of the chutes on the right. Not recommended! The headwall looks impregnable.
This is still the best spot to go up in my opinion. Raff and Andrea head for the most obvious weakness in the headwall.
Andrea makes it look effortless! Andrea scrambles up some steep rocks.
I'm not sure I wanna down-climb what we just climbed up... Raff and Andrea clear the most difficult part of the headwall.  Mount Putnik dominates the view across the valley.
Looks like a dinosaur claw or tooth! Horn coral fossils are abundant in the area.
Guess which bump at the top is the summit. Andrea gets her first good look at Mount Lyautey.
It was great to walk on solid rock versus unstable rubble. Raff and Andrea hike up some ledges below an impressive cliff face.

 Ice, ice, baby!

Raff and Andrea approach the toe of Lyautey Glacier.


So much easier than walking on rubble! Raff and Andrea hike up the eastern margin of the glacier.
Most impressive. This spectacular wall guards the northwest flank of Lyautey Glacier.
This did not suck as much as I thought it would! Andrea and Raff churn their way up the scree slope toward the gully above.
Potential funnel for rockfall, so helmets strongly recommended! Though steep, the gully is mostly Class 3 scrambling terrain.
Not a recommended route! Andrea and Raff can be seen at the bottom of a snow patch in a steep chute.
Still have to be careful about rockfall here especially on descent. Raff and Andrea ascend a loose ramp to gain the summit ridge.
The message in the register from Kevin Barton to Andrew Nugara reads, "FU Nugara"! Andrea, Raff and Sonny reach the summit of Mount Lyautey (3036 metres).
A lot of peaks I will probably never climb... Mount King George dominates the Royal Group to the west.

 Mount Putnik, which looked so prominent from below, doesn't look like much from up here!

Some of the more prominent peaks to the north include Mount Assiniboine, Mount Sir Douglas and Mount French.  Lyautey Glacier is visible at bottom left.


It's a shame we can't see more of Upper Kananaskis Lake from here. Mount Rae, Mount Arethusa and Storm Mountain are all easily identified on the horizon to the east.  The rock to the right of Upper Kananaskis Lake is Rawson Ridge.
Actually, they are close together! To the southeast, Mount Sarrail and Mount Foch appear to be close together.
Boy, Aster Lake is sure ugly! Mount Joffre rises above all the other peaks to the south.  At bottom left is Aster Lake.  Visible on the horizon at far right is Mount Harrison.
Supposedly one of the tougher Kane peaks to bag... Mount Northover sits to the southwest.
Raff calls this the toilet bowl...more like a shooting gallery actually with all the loose rocks! Andrea and Sonny carefully descend the broad gully.

Photo courtesy of Rafal Kazmierczak

I think Kevin Barton originally wanted to climb directly up to the ridge here. The head of Lyautey Glacier abuts the west ridge of Mount Lyautey.
Kintla Peak is on my radar, but it will entail a lot of planning... Raff safely returns to Lyautey Glacier.
'Cause Raff asked me to...that's why! Sonny jumps over a crevasse for some extra thrills.

Photos courtesy of Rafal Kazmierczak

Barton's route is so much better... Here is a look back at Mount Lyautey and the moraine that Kane ascended.

 That's the only way I can keep up to Andrea--tell her to stop for a photograph!

Andrea stops to pose for a photograph with Mount Putnik in the background.


I sweated more from the bike ride than from the scrambling! Raff rides his bike back to the trailhead.
This mountain really deserves more visits as it is a great scramble from start to finish. Total Distance:  24.5 kilometres
Total Time:  11 hours 37 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  1316 metres

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