Rimwall Summit

June 10, 2022. A short scramble to great views of the Spray Lakes area.

  • Region: Kananaskis Country. Traditional territory of the Stoney, Tsuu T’ina, and Blackfoot First Nations
  • Distance: 7.7 km round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1000 m
  • Elevation of Objective: 2657 m (Kane’s guidebook puts it at 2680 m)
  • Total Time: 5h 14m
  • Safety and Disclaimer

Rimwall Summit is a ”moderate” scramble featured in Kane’s Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies. Kane undersells it a bit, I think, writing that it’s worth doing ”If you’ve done the local favourites”. Having done the trip, I’m a little surprised it isn’t one of the local favourites. It’s easy to access, being nearby Canmore, and the route begins at a clearly marked trailhead. By halfway up the climb expansive views of the Spray Lakes Reservoir open up. From the summit you are surrounded by great views. Three Sisters is to the north, Mount Lougheed to the south, Spray Lakes Reservoir and surrounding peaks to the west, and the Bow Valley to the east.

The route starts at the West Wind Pass Trailhead. Google maps will lead you right to it. The access road, (Smith Dorien Trail/Hwy 742) is unpaved but fairly well maintained. A high clearance vehicle isn’t needed. There are broad gravel shoulders to park on at the trailhead. There’s also a sign notifying of seasonal closure of the valley to the east of the pass, which is relevant if you’re planning to follow the trail up and over the pass but it doesn’t impact this route.

From the trailhead, we followed the official trail towards West Wind Pass. There was a fork about 250 meters along which was marked with a small white sign posted on a tree. A message written in Sharpie told us ”West Wind Pass —-> Right !!”. We obeyed the sign. During my internet research before this trip I had read about a cairn marking a left turn about 1 km from the trailhead. We found it and departed the main trail and started to ascend steeply. Despite being off the main trail, it wasn’t hard to see where to go – the route is popular enough that the way is pretty clear. Between the boot-beaten path and many, many cairns there wasn’t too much route finding to do. Once out of the trees there were some low rock bands to climb up (no major scrambling) and we were on the ridge.

From there the route ascends to the false summit and continues along the ridge to the summit. As far as I can tell, the only unavoidable scrambling comes in the form of two low rock bands just below the summit. Hands-on scrambling is required, but there’s no exposure. It should be noted that along the route below here there are a few opportunities to scramble if you feel the urge but they can be avoided. Moving at a pretty easy pace we reached the summit after about 3 hours. The wind was howling and very cold but we still stayed for a while to take in the great view. We returned by the same route.

Click on the pictures in the gallery below to access higher resolution images.

Route overview looking north.
The parking area is an area of broad gravel shoulders. Beyond the sign visible here is an Alberta Parks map sign showing all the trails in the area.
A short way up the trail, be on the lookout for this little sign.
About 825 meters along the trail, there’s a fork with one path heading downwards and the other going up. The lower one has flagging. As far as I can tell, both lead to the same place eventually. We followed the lower path and kept an eye out for the cairn marking the place to turn uphill and leave the main trail.
The squat cairn marking the spot to turn left and ascend. There’s enough traffic that there’s a well-defined path visible.
Soon the terrain gets rockier and there are some low rock bands to climb up. No tricky scrambling. Eventually, the route intersects the thin edge of a broad rock band that turns into huge cliffs further along the southeast face of the mountain. From here it’s easy to climb past it and onto the slopes above.
Once above the rock band the false summit comes into view. Any path should work but there are cairns here and there, some of which seem purely decorative. There are some places where there’s loose rubble on slabs, leading to tricky footing.
Looking back on the way up to the false summit. Once above the trees there are increasingly impressive views of the Spray Lakes Reservoir.
Looking down at West Wind Pass. Wind Tower is on the other side of the pass. Lougheed 1 is to the right.
Closing in on the false summit.
Some interesting grooves in the rock.
Panorama looking south from the false summit.
Looking up towards the summit from the false summit. The wall of rock for which Rimwall got its name is in full view. Little Sister is visible in the background to the right of the cliff.
Looking back down towards the reservoir again.
Closing in on the summit. Three short rock bands are below the summit. The first can be circumvented, the next two involve some scrambling.
Scrambling up one of the rock bands.
Looking back the way I came. Wind Tower on the left. Peaks of Mount Lougheed at the centre and right.
Once past the rock bands it was a short walk to the summit cairn of Rimwall Summit. The wind was very strong so I didn’t risk opening the register.
Looking west. Mount Nestor, Old Goat Mountain and the Goat Range are across the valley.
Looking north at The Orphan and Three Sisters.
Looking east at Wind Ridge and the Bow Valley.
Looking south. Wind Tower and Mount Lougheed’s three summits.
Broader western panorama.
Big Sister
Little Sister
Lougheed 3
Mount Galatea and The Tower
I think the taller peak to the left is Mount King George. Mount Smuts on the right.
Mount Nestor and Old Goat Mountain.
Heading back down.

2 thoughts on “Rimwall Summit

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