Mt. Sparrowhawk - Spray Lakes Road
RS - Big Rock Spur or Reads
Scramble: Class 1 Steep Hiking
Altitude: 3,121m (10,237 ft)
Elevation Gain: 1,350m (4,428 ft)
Ascent Time: 3 1/2 5 Hours
Best Season to Scramble: Mid-June to September
This scramble offers a sense of remoteness and impressive
summit views, which make the first hour + of bushwhacking worth while. It should be
attempted when the front part of the summit block is relatively free of snow. If there is
a patch of snow in front of the summit block but only extends a quarter of the way down
the big slope to the rock spur you should be okay. This ensures that the final meters
around the back of the summit block are clear. You can actually check the last few meters
of the summit block from Ribbon Creek on Highway 40. Stop on the side of the road just
past the turnoff into the Ribbon Creek/ Nakiska ski area. The summit block is up the North
Fork of Ribbon Creek on the right hand side. Binoculars would help.
If you are scrambling from mid July to August you probably will
not need to check the summit block and can go through Canmore, which is shorter. From
either Banff 26km (16.2miles) or Calgary 106 km (66.2 miles) drive to Canmore and from the
Bow River bridge in Canmore to the Mt Sparrowhawk parking lot drive 26.3 km (16.4 miles).
The road from the Bow River bridge takes you past the Canmore Nordic Centre and onto the
Spray Lakes road (packed gravel).
If you want to check the summit block, head west out of Calgary on the
TransCanada highway # 1 for 79km (49.4 miles) and take the Kananaskis Country highway # 40
turnoff and head south. The Ribbon Creek turnoff to check the summit block is 23.4 km
(14.6 miles) south. Continue south and turn right into Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
which is 49km (30.6 miles) south of the TransCanada. From this turnoff drive 2 km (1.25
miles) and turn right on Spray Lakes road driving a further 37.7km (23.6 miles) north
until you reach the Mt Sparrowhawk day use parking lot on your left.
If your base is Banff head east on the TransCanada for 52km (32.5
miles) to highway 40 and follow as above.
The trail starts right
across from the Sparrowhawk day use area. Head up the obvious
trail, don't go left at the first junction (mtn bike trail) but
head left at the second junction (approx 1km) just past the two
benches. Going straight will take you up to Sparrowhawk Tarns.
Once you head left it will be steep hike up to the top of Reads
Once you attain the open ridge hike up until you
reach Reads Tower, drop down left into
the basin and traverse along the left side of
Reads Tower until you are at its front. This will leave
the final big slope, a traverse around the right side of the
summit block, then a short climb up the back. Return the way you