The Fortress

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The Fortress
  • Location: Kananaskis Country (Highway 742)
  • Activity: Scrambling
  • Height: 3,000 m (9,843 ft)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,050 m (3,445 ft)
  • Distance: 18.9 km / Loop (11.7 mi)
  • Avg Steepness: 6.3°
  • Estimated Time: 6-9 hrs
  • Technicality: Intermediate
  • Fitness Level: Moderate
I waited for the Fortress, Chester-Headwall Lakes traverse for a while now for a summer trip. Unfortunately the weather wasn't as sunny as I hoped, but still I rate this trip as one of my favorites.

Approach:
I met many parties doing the same loop but most of them were doing from Headwall Lakes to Chester Lake. I was doing the opposite. I used Chester Lake trail to go to Chester. This isn't much of a big deal but I believe normally people take the trail to NW shore at the lake but I took the SE shore since there was a bear with a cub (due to the bears I was off-trail for a little while around the lake).

Beyond Chester Lake, the trail became little more faintly here and there especially toward the col to start scrambling up.

The Col:
Scrambling up to the col was little bit pain in the butt. It was a loose steep rubble-ly scree uphill. Ahhhh, this is maybe why people prefer Headwall to Chester direction. Because gaining elevation to the col from Headwall side was easier since slope was still covered with snow.

Summit:
From the col, it didn't get much better. Still the rubble slope continued for another 300 m (page 9). Finally at the summit block, the trail went climber's left to go around the wall to the summit. (page 13)

Descent:
I went back to the col, then went east side to Headwall Lakes. There was a very weak trail I found at the bottom of valley, but really the good trail started from Headwall Lakes.

If you are going from Headwall Lakes:
Not sure how you get to the trailhead of Headwall Lakes trail using the cross country trails, but the Headwall Lakes trail trailhead was about 180 m after waypoint "Bridge" and marked with a big cairn. It's a single track trail and can be missed if you are not paying attention despite of the very obvious cairn.

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I had to stick with other people to Chester Lake because there was warning about bear with cub at the trailhead and I was doing solo.

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Bears at the Lake.

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Chester Lake V
  • Location: Kananaskis Country (Highway 742)
  • Activity: Hiking
  • Height: 2,220 m (7,284 ft)
  • Elevation Gain: 310 m (1,017 ft)
  • Distance: 8.5 km / Round Trip (5.3 mi)
  • Avg Steepness: 4.2°
  • Estimated Time: 2-4 hrs
  • Technicality: Novice
  • Fitness Level: Easy
Chester Lake.

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The Fortress.

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Valley to the Fortress.

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As always valleys in this mountain range are pretty.

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If you are interested in the Fortress / Gusty Peak traverse, I uploaded high rez picture. It is possible but doesn't look scramble at all…

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Up on ruble.

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Started hailing.

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I never get the perfect weather when I come to Chester area.

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Still pretty though.

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Summit block. Go left.

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Fortress Lake down below.

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Big peaks. Gusty, Galatea, and Tower.

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Heading to Headwall Lakes.

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Like it.

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Green.

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The Fortress from this side.

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Oh man.

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Headwall Lakes
  • Location: Kananaskis Country (Highway 742)
  • Activity: Hiking
  • Height: 2,360 m (7,743 ft)
  • Elevation Gain: 480 m (1,575 ft)
  • Distance: 7.3 km / One Way (4.5 mi)
  • Avg Steepness: 3.8°
  • Estimated Time: 3.5-5 hrs
  • Technicality: Novice
  • Fitness Level: Easy
Upper Headwall Lake. It was far bigger then I was thinking.

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Again looking back the Fortress.

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Asses.

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Lower Headwall Lake. What a place!


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