Burstall Pass
A full-day hike to a gorgeous karst wonderland

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The first hour or so of the Burstall Pass trail is an old road, which takes us past the Burstall Lakes and in to the glacier flats.

Hiking up the road.

The flats are the first challenge of the trip. This is a large open gravel area which has a stream running through it - that drains the French Glacier.
There is no one clear river channel, and the stream regularly changes which ones it uses, so no bridges are built through this section.
There is a set of orange markers showing you the general way, but it's up to you to find your way across.
Since the water level is usually reasonably low in the morning, it is possible to cross with dry feet this August - with care.

The start of the flats.

The French Glacier.

Crossing the deepest channel.

Log bridge for the win!

The end of the gravel flats.

Once across the flats, the real hike starts with a steady uphill to crest the first headwall.
It's pretty forested, and you can know there's a break in the grade coming when the trees start to open to meadows.

The trail opens up above the lower headwall.

Meadows between the two headwall sections.

After a short meadow trek, it's back to the steep grade to ascend the second and final headwall to Burstall Pass.
This one is shorter but steeper, but the awesome landscape of the pass is already visible.

Starting up the second headwall.

Great view of Snow Peak and the pass.

Birdwood Pass and Mount Birdwood.

Leigh and Wes catch up to us.

The meadows of Burstall Pass.

Bright green with some flowers still.

Reaching the pass, we headed north towards Snow Peak to enjoy lunch on a breezy rocky ridge - with no bugs!

Burstall Pass and the Kananaskis-Banff border.

Hiking up for lunch.

Typical hiking in Burstall Pass.


The broad landscape of Burstall Pass.

A look west to Mount Leval and Vanvaseur.

Snow Peak to the north (an excellent easy scramble!)

Pano of Burstall Pass.

After lunch, there was popular support for an amble through the meadows, so we followed the trail through the pass for a view to the west.
Despite being more than halfway through August, there were a number of flowers still present in the meadows, and the sun was perfect!

Starting the hike after lunch.

Hiking west beyond the pass.

Ofer and Wes in the meadow.

The group joins the main meadow trail.

Hiking through Burstall Pass.

Hamish checks out a snowpatch.

Trail west through the meadows.

The view opens up to the northwest.

Leman Lake appears below us.

Leman Lake and the unnamed peaks surrounding Talus Lodge.

Burstall Pass Ridge from behind.

Snow Peak from the southwest.

The hike down returns the same way, and was enjoyable with a different sky.

Heading back up through the meadows.

The group returns to Burstall Pass.

Looking down the pass to Mount Sir Donald.

Descending the upper headwall.

Meadows between the two steep sections.

Looking out to Mount Birdwood.

When we reached the flats section, the water was higher, as usually happens this close to a glacier.
Those of us who brought sandals changed into them for the easy and refreshing way to cross the flats.
A couple did not have sandals, and managed to cross with dry feet, though it took some additional creativity.

Changing shoes at the entrance to the flats.

Hiking through the streams.

Wes cools off in the water.

Ofer leaps a stream.

Changing shoes at the end of the flats to finish off the hike.

Photos taken by Rachel

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