September 15, 2012
Kananaskis – Smith Dorrien Valley, AB
Gusty Peak, just like its name suggests, is the least pleasant scramble in Chester Lake area. It’s also the only unofficially named peak in this group among Mt. Galatea, Gusty Peak, The Fortress and Mt. Chester. The standard route is nothing but a “rubble slog” but the view is supposed to be pretty good given its proximity to the core ranges.
After finishing Mount Galatea, Neil and I came down the scenic Three Lakes Valley. Instead of dropping down to Chester Lake, we took a highline traverse around Gusty Peak’s south extension, in order to save some elevation loss and regain. Once around the corner, we had to down-climb a tricky section, followed by losing about 50 m elevation. And then we were officially at the valley leading to Gusty and Fortress. For those hikers who don’t like scrambling, you’d better venture in this valley and the Three Lakes Valley, and they give a much better perspective than the tourists’ Chester Lake. The trail eventually disappeared into a rubble field and then we were at the base of Gusty Peak.
The slope looked like a true slog just as expected from what’s described on others’ sites. Instead of following Kane’s line, we decided to ascend the rocky rib on climber’s right side, which turned out to be a very good call. The ground is much more stable on this side, and the scrambling is moderate at most. Once we cut back to the main slope, it was purely rubble slog to the summit. We were surprised to see 4 others descending this peak, as Gusty isn’t a popular mountain. Some of them didn’t bring poles and as a result, they had to descend very awkwardly. The most eye-catching feature on this ascent is to look back at The Fortress’s shear east face.
We took a necessary break on the summit, while soaking in the views. Both of us felt good on energy so we decided to bag The Fortress at the end of the day. Coming down Gusty was much better than expected as we could manage to surf at most places. It was not fine scree, but still easy to descend.
By the time we hit the base we were tired but not exhausted. The weather held pretty nicely and we decided to push on to get the last objective of this day, namely The Fortress…