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Mt. Chester (3054m)

I did Mt. Chester on July 15, 2002 with a big group of relatives. My Uncle Bill and my cousin Joseph had just arrived from the States for a week, so my Dad, my Uncle Tom and I met them at Cochrane to head out to the mountains. We went the first day but there were thundershowers so we couldn't climb anything, so we slept a night and headed off the next day for Mt. Chester along the Spray Lakes Road. I had ambitions of doing Chester and the Fortress in one day with the circuit of Chester Lake-Headwall Lake, but the prospect was quite dim when we only got off to a 10:00 start. Mt. Chester has 1150m of elevation gain with a fairly short approach. There were the five of us on this mountain. This picture is actually taken from the shoulder of Gusty Peak when My Uncle Bill and I were approaching the Fortress. The ascent route follows the right skyline to the summit on the right.Click on a picture to enlarge it.

We headed off at 10:00 in the morning to great weather in the midst of some great peaks of the French creek range I believe. The maps at the start of the trailhead directed us which trail to take to Chester Lake. After less than an hour we emerged into this beautiful alpine meadow near Chester Lake, but the mosquitoes were absolutely horrid! We quickly made our way to the shores of the lake where we found an outhouse!? We crossed the stream and headed for the col between Chester and its lesser outlier. This picture was taken once we entered the valley meadows. Gusty Peak is the dominant mountain, with Chester just out of view on the right. The Fortress is just peaking out from behind the right shoulder of Gusty Peak.

Heading up the gully to the col, we used rock/grass instead of the snow because of our lack of ice axes. We made fairly good time to the col which you can see at the bottom of this picture. The peak beyond it is the outlier of Chester. We came up the snowy right side of the gully. From here on it was scree and slabs. What was surprising was how slabby it was. It made for fun scrambling, but was not enjoyable at all on the descent. Here, Joe suddenly got a burst of energy and shot up the mountain like a bullet. Surprising considering yesterday he had been at pretty much sea-level. After about and hour or so I believe, we reached the summit from the col. I believe that the tall peak in the background is Mount Sir Douglas.

Here are the fabulous five..... errrr.... oops....... wrong picture! Actually, here are four hoodlums snacking on the summit with another hoodlum a.k.a. my dad taking the picture. Conveniently, nobody had brought a pack except for me, so I was forced to carry everything despite the offers of my Uncles. Thank goodness my ego kicked in! What a stubborn kid I am. All in all it was about 40 pounds or so, and I'm amazed I could keep up with them, albeit barely. As well, this was Joseph's first time above 10,000 feet, so he marvelled at that fact. Many peaks were viewable including the three prominent peaks of Joffre, Sir Douglas and Assiniboine, all 11,000 foot peaks.

The descent to the col was tedious walking down slabs. My Uncle Tom got a huge gash on his leg from a rock, but was amazingly the first one to the col. At the col we started the funnest part - the continous glissade to the valley floor. I'm pretty sure that most of us found this fun, but don't count on it. At the bottom we contemplated whether or not to continue to the Fortress, so one party split off back to Canmore and the other continued to the Fortress. Here are Uncle Bill and Joe after the glissade from the col in the background.

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