On Sunday, my friend Paul and I completed an epic hike. We decided that we would attempt to conquer Mount Sparrowhawk in the Smith-Dorrien Area south of Canmore. It looked like a good one to do after reading about it in ‘Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies’ by Alan Kane, but we also chose it based on a glowing recommendation.
According to the book, the difficulty is described as ‘an easy scramble via west scree slopes’, but this was not an easy scramble! The trail started by the Sparrowhawk road sign, just opposite the parking lot. After hiking through some forest, we followed the path until we saw blue ribbons on the trees.
At the small cairn, we turned left onto the trail and ascended the steep incline until we reached the mountain plateau. We stopped for a quick break and then headed up the gully, scrambled across many rocks, and then pretty much ‘climbed’ on hands and knees up the final scree scramble to the top. Phew… it was not that easy, in my opinion.
Once we arrived at the final scramble, finding a good path up to the top proved to be difficult. The incline was steep, and the scree was not easy to climb. I even caused a mini-avalanche of rocks at one point, and that’s never a safe feeling. We really had to focus on each step. Paul and I were determined and we knew that conceding defeat was not an option, but it was a sketchy climb to the summit!
All of our efforts paid off, because when we finally reached the summit, the views were absolutely breathtaking. To reiterate: Breath. Taking. Thankfully the weather was perfect that day and we could see for miles and miles. There were mountain peaks all around us, an incredible view of the Spray Lakes Reservoir, and far off in the distance, the tiny buildings of Calgary rose from the ground. The summit was extremely windy though, and we had to hold our hats down while trying not to be blown off the mountain!
We were so proud of ourselves that we made it to the top of Mount Sparrowhawk. After taking some time to appreciate our spectacular surroundings, we signed the notebook in the registry canister, and began the long and painful descent back to the car. And boy was it painful! My IT bands were killing me, and by the end, we were both exhausted… and maybe a bit hysterical. I’m not going to lie- every stumble or overwhelming pain resulted in a lot of cursing to Mother Nature. But how can I stay mad at her? The views are just too amazing.
I can say, without doubt, that hiking Mount Sparrowhawk was the most epic, difficult and rewarding hike I’ve done since living in Alberta. I’ve done a few hikes now and I’ve seen a lot of scenery from several mountain summits over the years, but this one takes the cake for the most amazing and awe-inspiring views!
The summit of Mount Sparrowhawk rests at an altitude of 3121 metres (10239 feet). The hike has an elevation gain of 1350 metres, which is the most elevation gain I’ve hiked thus far in Alberta. We started the hike at 10:35 am and reached the summit at 2:40 pm. After spending 25 minutes at the summit, we headed back down, stopped for lunch, and made it to the car by 7:05 pm. It was a long day. It may have taken us 8.5 hours, but Paul and I conquered Mount Sparrowhawk! Whoohoo!