June 25, 2012
Kananaskis – Highway 40, AB
Mount Allan, the highest point of Olympic/Allan/Collembola loop, is one of the most popular scrambles in Kananaskis. The well-known Centennial Trail leads you from parking lot up and over “Olympic Summit” all the way to the summit of Mt. Allan and it’s the highest official trail in the Canadian Rockies. There’re a couple loose and not-so-well defined sections on the ridge so I’d say it’s more of an easy scramble than a hike. Since I ascended both Pigeon Mountain and Squaw’s Tit the previous day (2200 m total elevation gain), I was quite tired in the morning so slept in quite a bit. Weather was promising in Canmore so I still wanted a big ascent, and Allan/Collembola loop seemed like a right idea…
I wasted too much time in the morning, and started the ascent at almost 9 AM (quite a late start given the forecast of afternoon thunderstorms). There were already cars parking at Ribbon Creek parking lot, but I wasn’t sure if those guys were heading up Centennial Ridge, as there are many other trails starting at that area. Centennial Ridge Trail was very well marked so pretty easy to follow. The problem was the feeling of loneliness, and seeing lots of bear scats didn’t help. There was surprisingly a good amount of distance to cover before reaching the open grassy slope on the south side of Olympic Summit.. I passed two other hikers here – one from Edmonton and the other from Quebec. I started to feel the height gain I just did the day before at this point but after a bit of perseverance it didn’t take me long to reach the top of Olympic Summit. The view of the “rock wall” from Bogart to Lougheed was impressive. It’s debatable if I should include “Olympic Summit” in my list but since the name is fairly popular I’ll claim it.
The weather didn’t appear to be stable so I didn’t linger any longer than necessary on Olympic Summit. I had to lose about 80 m elevation towards the “rock garden”, where I could admire some impressive pinnacles. A hail/snow storm moved in and I lost the view temporarily after this section. The rest of the way to the summit of Mt. Allan was just about perseverance again. I managed to summit Allan literally 2 minutes before another big storm. The register was specially shaped and there were even sugars and snacks inside. The book was wet and I could barely write on it with the pencil. This hail/wet snow storm was significantly heavier than the previous one. I found a shelter place on the east side and waited for more than 30min until it was gone. Two scramblers joined me on the summit during the waiting. They didn’t plan on Mt. Collembola so headed down soon after taking a few no-view summit photos. The clouds were really dark but lightning never came at that moment, nor even the buzzing sounds.
It’s a long way up here from the highway so I was keen to tick off Collembola on the same day. However, given the unstable weather it was a risky decision. Good thing was, this is a relatively easy objective and I could pretty much bail down the ridge at anywhere in case thunderstorm moves in. Therefore after the previous hail storm passed by, I started the traverse to Mount Collembola.