Mount Burke

Elevation: 2542 m
Elevation Gain: 935 m
Mount Burke was officially named by a survey crew for local rancher and North West Mounted Police veteran Denis Burke in 1919. Unofficially, it is likely that the survey crew actually named the peak in honor of Mrs. Burke and her legendary meals and hospitality. The now dilapidated Cameron fire lookout atop its summit was built by the Alberta Forest Service in 1929 and was operated until 1953 when it was replaced by the more easily reached lookouts atop nearby Raspberry Ridge and Hailstone Butte. To this day, a steel cable is visible running from the fire lookout 1.5 km down the mountain to a point near the tree line. This cable is grounded in moist earth and its purpose was to protect the lookout and its inhabitant from lightning. The telephone wire which connected the lookout to the base of the mountain, however, provided an alternate path to electrical ground and, therefore, had to be disconnected during storms. It is said that lightning struck the lookout, blowing up the bed and breaking the window after one inhabitant forgot to do so. The inhabitant, allegedly, abandoned his post immediately and hastily descended Mount Burke wearing only boots and a pair of long underwear.
My Ascents:
June 2 2012

It's been a painfully late start to the scrambling season this year! Late snowfalls having continuously pushed back the start of the scrambling season, I found myself relegated to shoulder season ascents in June. Fortunately, as far as shoulder season ascents go, Mount Burke is among my favorites. While the ascent switchbacks excessively, the peak nevertheless offers a sense of accomplishment unmatched by other such shoulder season offerings. The location and unusual height of this peak (relative to its surroundings) make it easy to see why it was selected as the location for a fire lookout. Suffice to say, the summit panorama outclasses that of similar objectives (Moose Mountain, Prairie Mountain, Raspberry Ridge etc.). In terms of elevation gain, Burke weighs in at a respectable 935 vertical meters making it a satisfying objective physically as well. With Crux's successful ascent of his first summit (700 vertical meters up Ha Ling Peak) a couple of weeks ago, I was keen to test my new puppy's mettle and to see if he could handle a more significant outing. My parents have always enjoyed Mount Burke so I invited them along as well (to test their early season mettle). Despite the rainy forecast, we set out from Calgary hoping that the clouds would lift and that Crux would be up to the challenge!

The obligatory shot of the objective: an overcast Mount Burke as seen from the parking area.

Crux seemed less interested in climbing the mountain than he was in chewing everything that he could find upon it.

My mom enjoying the driving rain and harsh wind. Just another beautiful day in the Canadian Rockies!

One wet puppy.

Finally out of the trees: still no sign of sunshine.

Gord enjoys the view just prior to the final summit push. Normally, this is about the time when the ascent starts to get scenic!

What’s this? Clearing skies?

My mom gamely clamoring up the rubble slopes. Crux and I got excited by the blue sky above and scurried ahead.

Impressive peaks along the continental divide to the west. I can’t think of another easy front range peak which offers comparable proximity to the larger peaks of the divide - with the exception perhaps of Raspberry Ridge, which can be seen in the foreground.

Clouds continuing to hug the leeward side of the summit ridge despite the generally clearing conditions.

Shelter from the vicious summit wind? Unfortunately not. With no windows remaining, conditions inside the abandoned lookout are identical to those outside.

“Yes? Who’s there?” Crux guards the abandoned fire lookout atop his second summit.

The floor was a little wet…guess he's not used to "ruff-ing" it yet!

Exploring the old lookout, Crux manages to find a geocache.

The view of the front ranges and the prairies to the north.

LUNCH TIME! A big peak (for a puppy) deserves a big snack!

All tuckered out after lunch. Poor Crux was exhausted and needed a cuddle to stay warm in the cold wind.

Flat lands far below.

The Livingstone Range (of which Mount Burke is the second highest peak) to the south.

"Grandma" and "Grandpa".

Family photo. Tough to say who was more tired at the summit, Crux of my mom.

Time to head down to escape the freezing wind!

Wind aside,it turned into a pretty nice day afterall!

Trying to avoid kisses on descent. Resistance is futile.

Obligatory tired puppy shot after 16 km round trip and 935 vertical meters. He stayed in a state similar to this for the rest of this day and the next! I'll have to take him hiking more often!