Written by Shane Bliss
Walking on what locals like to refer to Canada’s Matterhorn, Mount Assiniboine, which you can only get to on foot or by helicopter. Fun and a challenge.
This whole area is a, and forgive the cliché, walker's paradise. There are plenty of peaks over 3000metres, and some of them you can scramble up without needing proper climbing gear – which really weighs you down.
Of course it's remote, that's part of the appeal, but it's not without creature comforts, there's a lodge which has comfortable accommodation and a cafe and restaurant, but there are also cabins which you can rent from the Park Rangers, which will be a cosier alternative to camping.
If you look at the photos of Mount Assiniboine you'll be able to see exactly why it's referred to as Canada's Matterhorn where ever it's mentioned – it's got the same nice, regular, pyramidal lines, perfect for the top of a chocolate box. Its lakeside setting probably helps as well, giving it that mirrored effect that's so Swiss Alps charming. The lake in question here is called Lake Magog, and Assiniboine rises one and a half kilometres above it. Few permanent human residents means lots of bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk, mule deer, marmots, squirrels, chipmunks and fields of wild flowers, but this is a popular trail in season so be prepared to meet people on the trail (and to pay exorbitant park fees) and to book your campsite in advance just to be sure.
Starting from the Sunshine Ski Resort or Bryant Creek Shelter in the Banff National Park, wander the paths here before heading off 24kms to Mount Assiniboine then down another 24 to the Mount Shark trailhead.
The stretch in to the lake and the lodge goes via Assiniboine Pass, where there's a divergence up the mountain itself, before it flattens out to the lake and the lodge and campgrounds. After this there are plenty of day walks, and if you're a climber, a possible summit of the peak.
Best time July to September - but it’s also the busiest…so it’s up to you what you fancy – weather, or trails to yourself. The real fun here is the weather - highly highly variable it can snow here any day - alternatively in the summer it can hit 30 degrees.
While the peak is in BC, the closest major town is Canmore, Alberta and the closest city is Calgary.
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