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Mt. Burke False Summit Snowshoe

  • Apr 13, 2013 · 8:30 AM
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Our route will follow the summer trail to the fire lookout at the top of Mount Burke, but we will only get to the false summit (see the photo), which offers almost as good views as the lookout building itself. The route from the false summit to the lookout building would require navigating a narrow, snow covered ridge and additional 2 hours.

In order to get to the trailhead we have to drive for about 12 km on a gravel road (from Highwood Junction to Cataract Creek Campground) – winter tires are a must and four wheel drives - more than welcome.

This is not a beginner trip. Snowshoe experience is not necessary, but one has to have proper equipment (see list below) and feel comfortable doing summer hikes with[masked] m elevation gain.

Difficulty: Intermediate+         Trail Length: 12 km (return)
Time to Complete: 7 hours      Elevation Gain: about 650 m
Drive Time to trailhead: 1.5 hours

From the carpool location we will drive to Longview, then to Highwood Junction where Hwy.40 is closed for the winter. The trailhead is 12 km south of the junction on Hwy.940.

The snowshoe trip will start at the Cataract Creek Day Use Area Parking, from which we will hike about 1 km to the campground (campground access road is closed in the winter.) From there we will hike along a dry bed of Salter Creek. After about half an hour hike, we will put on the snowshoes, which will be needed on the way up to the treeline. Open slopes above the treeline usually have hardly any snow; we may leave snowshoes at the treeline and hike to the false summit. On the way back we could snowshoe “as a crow flies” instead of following switchbacks, which would shave about ½ hour from our descent time.

There is a good set of Bob Spirko’s photos on the Internet http://bobspirko.ca/Hiking/MtBurke/MtBurke10.htm showing the route which we will take (photos 1 thru 7) and the conditions which we will likely encounter.

Expect and be prepared for: hiking with snowshoes strapped to your backpack; helping to break the trail; snowshoeing in the snow over a meter deep; hiking in a strong wind above the treeline.

Required items to bring:
o snowshoes – they can be rented for $10-15 at the University of Calgary http://www.calgaryoutdoorcentre.ca/rental If renting take snowshoes with tails or bigger snowshoes if you are in between sizes
o or Mountain Equipment Coop http://www.mec.ca/AST/ContentPrimary/Services/Stores/Calgary/Rentals.jsp
o waterproof hiking boots + gaiters (high winter boots would be too warm)
o hiking poles or ski poles with snow basket (mandatory)
o MICROSpikes, ICETrekkers etc. - if one already has them
o food and drink sufficient for 8-9 hours (hike/snowshoe + trip back to Calgary)
o something to sit on at lunch break (piece of foam, garbage bag)
o pants and jacket which will not get wet when you fall; toque, neck warmer, gloves, windbreaker (with hood if you have one); spare pair of dry socks; dress in layers, have something warm to put on when we stop for lunch and a set of dry clothes to change into when we get back to the cars.


Snowshoes:
Mountain type snowshoes which have teeth along and across a snowshoe are strongly recommended. They provide much better stability when traversing a slope. Optional tails help to walk in deep snow.

Tubular snowshoes with “mountain grip” are also OK, but they usually do not have as good grip and are more awkward to strap to a backpack, so make them a second choice when renting.
Old style, wooden snowshoes or military ones of similar design are not acceptable.


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  • Marek R

    The trip turned out to be much better than expected. Snow conditions were good - a layer of fresh snow on top of hard base allowed for relatively easy snowshoeing. The weather was also good - mostly overcast sky with some sunny breaks, but almost no wind below the tree line. The group was great - everybody enjoyed the trip, companionship and good workout.

    April 13, 2013

  • Ken W.

    Looking forward to the challenge!

    April 8, 2013

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