This loop hike starts at Chester Lake parking lot. Take one of the x-country ski trails and initially continue east and then north towards Headwall Lakes.
Continue past Headwall Lakes along the valley and ascent up the col and steep up to the Fortress summit, the last few meters requires some easy scrambling and use of your hands. On decent from the summit after reaching the col decent west into the Chester lake valley along steep sandy scree.
Continue to the Chester Lake and hike out taking well marked trail from the lake area back to the parking lot.
From Calgary drive west until Hwy 40 and continue south towards Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, turn west and drive along Smith Dorrien Trail gravel road approx 24 km to the Chester Lake parking lot found on the right side of the road.
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Posted By: ChrisMarry
- Sun Oct 13 21:53:12 EDT 2013
UpsideGreat views from Chester Lake to the summit, headwall Valley is super in Winter!
DownsideLong trail, pretty hard in winter conditions. Chester Lake trail is very busy.
CommentWe did that one in October and there was a lot of snow. It was very long and we did some bushwhacking beside Chester Valley and at the end of Headwall Lakes Valley as we were the only ones there and there were no visible path half of the time and the trail at Headwall Creek is washed out at many places. We did the opposite, from Chester to Headwall and it was good. It's just that your way up the first slope is much harder that way, steeper on Chester Valley side of the col.
Lots of snow, it was extremely hard physically but we did manage to make it in 8h05, such is great!. Total 19.84 km including the bushwacking, so probably 18 km. Net elevation gain was 1066 m, max elevation at 2974 m.
It would be a difficult hike anyway at 18 km with steep slopes, but it's pretty exhausting and even harder in winter conditions. You need some route finding skills and crampons-ice axe could be very helpful in the last portion of the snow slope just before climbing the rockband to the summit. I did a lot of scrambing this summer, but winter hikes is a totally different story. Enjoy, that's definitely a great loop to try!