Climbing
Snow/glacier/ice route, Trad climbing
Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Grade IV
Elevation Gain
990.00 m (3,248.03 ft)
Distance
6.21 km (3.86 mi)
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Read's Tower is a seldom-climbed route in Kananaskis. On the north face of Read's Tower is a couloir that often fills with ice graded at WI2. If you plan to go later in the season, the Zalmar Indirect follows slightly overhung limestone with few positive holds. This sketchy route has a fun alpine feel with some tricky overhead hazard to manage.

The approach begins at the Mount Sparrowhawk campsites. The hiking is straightforward, up the trail and passing the Trans Canada Trail to a nearby trail junction. From here, the trail disappears to the left beneath the snow (it is seldom climbed). Follow this route up the ridge into the alpine. It's not uncommon to see mountain goats ambling about here.

Follow the ridge until you get up to the distinct sub-peak beneath Mount Sparrowhawk, Read's Tower. Heading downhill and beneath the face of Read's, you will cross the bowl. A gully up the left center of Read's Tower will be visible from here. Check for cornices here; there are many that threaten the route. This is the main objective hazard. Carry on up the fan into the couloir. There are three pitches of straightforward WI2 or snow climbing on 40- to 60-degree slopes. Occasional constrictions force one or two M3 moves on each of the first three pitches.

At the fourth pitch, it is pretty challenging to create an anchor. You may need to dig down and use the frozen talus. A harness belay is recommended here to direct the force into the ground and not too much into the fragile anchors. Above this is the cornice. In fall it will be small and can often be hacked through or easily climbed. The Zalmar Indirect is a spring variation that takes the climbers along a left rock wall. It's a challenging and very exposed M6.

Pins can be placed on a bulge just beneath the more overhung section of the route. The slight overhang moves follows very precarious micro-holds with slab footing. If you push higher through questionable rock, there are some options for marginal gear. An arete quickly gives way to gentle climbing and the path to the summit.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

National or state forest pass

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Quiet. Interesting alpine feel.

Cons

Long approach.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

5,643.04 ft (1,720.00 m)

Highest point

8,562.99 ft (2,610.00 m)

Features

Big vistas
Wildlife
Big Game Watching
Bird watching

Access

Vehicle

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Primary aspect

North facing

Drinking water

Unfrozen water

Location

Field Guide

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