Chester Lake

Elevation: 2210 m
Elevation Gain: 305 m
Chester Lake is popular destination year-round. The lake takes its name from Mount Chester, which towers immediately above it. Like many of the surrounding peaks, Mount Chester was named for a WWI battle cruiser involved in the battle of Jutland.
My Ascents:
January 2 2016.

Parenting is replete with challenges for new dads (the evil that is swaddling, poopy diapers, car seat installation, mother-in-law moving in ;-) etc.). However, among the more pleasant challenges that I’ve struggled with is what to do when it’s nice outside! Of course I want to spend quality outdoor time with my new family but as an obsessive peak bagger, I’m also filled with a longing to bag big sexy peaks when conditions allow. As the calendar turned from 2015 to 2016, an extended high pressure system brought clear sunny skies to the Canadian Rockies and I was presented with a dilemma:

To seek out a modest, family-friendly objective to enjoy with those most important to me OR to satiate my own desire for adventure and big, beautiful mountain scenery?

In the end, I’m proud that I decided to forego selfish summit glory because I got to spend a wonderful winter’s day, surrounded by mountains, with my baby girl and her mom (and her mom’s mom). What I’m less proud of, is how torn I was in the days leading up to our outing. Alas, no one ever said that being a new dad would be easy…

Nannie leads the charge while Crux and Brianne follow as we set out towards Chester Lake. The Chester Lake trail might be the most popular snowshoe trail in Kananaskis so we opted to leave the snowshoes behind, making easy work of the very well-packed trail in our boots.

Mount Chester begins to come into view as elevation is gained and the forest thins.

Walking in a winter wonderland!

Stopping for a family photo as we near the lake.

Just before reaching Chester Lake, open alpine meadows reveal a stunning peak-filled pano! From left to right: Little Galatea, Mount Galatea, Gusty Peak, the Fortress and Mount Chester. Click to see larger.

Alpine kisses! Muahhh!

Mount Galatea (right): the highest peak in the Kananaskis Range.

Nannie wanted to keep climbing Gusty Peak (center) but we had to remind her that Mera’s just a baby. Maybe next time Nannie (after all Gusty is a FUN ascent!)…

The Fortress’ ramparts separate the Spray Valley to the west from the Kananaskis Valley to the east.

After bagging hundreds of peaks, Mount Chester remains one of my all-time favorites.

Based on the surprising number of ski tracks, Little Chester appears to be a popular target for backcountry skiers (despite the somewhat obvious avalanche hazard).

Mera and Daddy at the lake! In just a couple short years, we’ll climb that big mountain together Honey!

The Breezy Goat and its kid.

Gusty Peak (left) and Mount Chester (right) tower above the frozen, snow-covered surface of Chester Lake. Click to see larger.

A popular spot! Skiers set off across the lake while snowshoers enjoy the views and the sunshine.

Following a brief stay at the lake, Mera got hangry and it was time to head back towards Mount Birdwood and car nursing room below.

Sun-splashed views of Mount Sir Douglas, Mount Burstall, Mount Birdwood and Mount Smuts as we cross alpine meadows, making our way back towards the forest. Click to see larger.

Daddy made the right choice! A beautiful afternoon out with my girls!

Proud Nannie (nice toque btw!).

Spectacular views of the British Military Group (from left to right: Mount Murray, Mount French, Mount Robertson, Mount Sir Douglas and Mount Burstall) as we continue our descent.

Crux races downhill in an attempt to take out Nannie once and for all (there’s no basement door to hide behind out here…)!

A snowshoer pauses to enjoy the view of Mount Birdwood in the setting sun.

Back in the warm car: "Who wants to check my diaper? I have one last 'challenge' for you!"

A busy but beautiful parking lot after an awesome day in the hills – although silly Daddy may be tempted by summits, there’s no substitute for a bluebird day out with my girls!