September, 2004      Gain- 2900'+/-    Summit- 9056'      3 Hours+     Difficult Solo Scramble
Lat/Lon:  50.77°N, 115.32°W
Mount Burstall resides in the middle of the Spray Mountain Range just north of Mount
Murray in Kananaskis Provincial Park along with such notables as Shark Mountain
The Fist hemmed in to the west by the 11,172' Mount Sir Douglas on the
Continental Divide. Mount Burstall was officially named (as most mountains in the
area) after a WWI Lt. General in 1918. It was first ascended in 1972 by Brown,
Carruthers, Cobb, Seyforth and Schiesser.

The only published route up Mount Burstall is the difficult rated scramble. It is one of
the shortest routes in Kananaskis and one of the more pleasant in terms of footing.
Although rated difficult by one of the local guidebooks, it definitely is on the easier
side of difficult if not a more moderate climb. I took the summit on a stormy fall day,
but was still afforded dramatic views into the French and Robertson glaciers. On a
clear day, the views would be similar to Mount Murray and therefore include
the big
three in Kananaskis
, Mount Sir Douglas, Mount Joffre and Mount Assiniboine. To the
north are views of
Mount Engadine and Mount Chester.

The Burstall Pass trail is a common one for summer and winter activities. I have
hiked, biked and skied the trail. Burstall Pass itself gives access to the larger peaks
of Kananaskis and Banff National Park.    

Getting There     
From the Canmore Nordic Center, drive 40 km south on the Spray Lakes/Smith
Dorrien Road (gravel). Turn right at signs for the Burstall Pass day use parking lot.
You are guaranteed mountain sheep on the Spray Lakes Road and once in a blue
moon, a moose or two. Watch for hazardous rock fall on the switchbacks above
Canmore. At times this road will be closed due to rock and/or mud slides.

Red Tape    
There are no permit requirements to enter, climb and/or park in
Provincial Park. This is active grizzly country however. Take bear spray. I have seen a
black bear on the Burstall Pass trail in the past.
There are no park headquarters on
this road. Kananaskis Park headquarters are located on Highway 40 east of
Canmore. Any recent notices will be posted on the bulletin board at that location. If
they are open, check in with the ranger staff, they have tons of beta and are always

When To Climb    
As with most scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June
through September. I climbed Mount Burstall in September and dealt with
considerable fresh snow on the route, but not an impeding amount. There are no
published backcountry ski routes on Burstall, nor would it be conducive to ski to the
summit although skiing to the pass is quite popular.

The closest camping is located back at the north end of Spray Lakes Reservoir
across the damn at random campsites located on the west shore of the lake. You
cannot camp outside of the marked specific camping areas in Kananaskis. Refer to
Kananaskis Provincial Park website for more information regarding camping
and/or lodging. A premium accommodation is the
Engadine Lodge (back at Spray
Lake Road) which is only several kilometers north on Spray Lake Road.

Mountain Conditions     
The Kananaskis Provincial Park website is a very thorough park website, including
trail conditions or closures, wildlife notices, weather conditions, avalanche
conditions, camping permits, whitewater conditions, etc. It is an excellent source if
you are going to spend any time here and comparable to any National Park website I
have used. Outside of the parks web site,
Canadian Avalanche Association is also
useful, particularly for winter travel.

This is a 2900’+/- ascent day.   Bike along the Burstall Pass Trail until you reach a
large boulder in the center of the trail. After just a few more minutes on the trail you
will notice a treed avalanche gully on your left.    

Park your bike and proceed up the right side of this avalanche gully following a
decent animal trail, if you can find it, until it tops out above tree line at 7500' onto a
broad avalanche area exposing the col east of Burstall. Gain this col at about 8500'
and then proceed to your right, staying below the ridge on the south side, following
an animal trail and then large talus to finally gain the summit ridge.

This last 350’ is the difficult portion. Follow ledges below the right side of the ridge
until you find yourself below an overhanging block on the ridge itself. Continue to the
left in a human size crack making a few moves to eventually gain the ridge again.
Scramble up the ridge carefully to the summit.

The views to the southwest encompass Robertson, French and their glaciers. On a
clear day, the views would be similar to Mount Murray and therefore include the big
three in Kananaskis, Mount Sir Douglas, Mount Joffre and Mount Assiniboine. To the
north are views of Mount Engadine and Mount Chester.

There was a summit register in 2004. Return the way you came.   
Watch the
exposure on the north side of the ridge.

Essential Gear    
Alpine Ax for snow patches in September. Bike, Bear Spray, Helmet, Gaiters.

Trip Report
This was a solo trip. I gained the summit in under 2 hours from the parking lot, but of
course that is moving pretty damn fast. I recommend this one, a short trip for the
glacier views and firm ground. Cheers!
1.  The East Ridge of Mt. Burstall (foreground)
2.-3.  Cruxes of the Ridge
4.  Mts. French- Robertson and relative Glaciers
5.  Summit Photo
6.  Skiing Burstall Pass