Read's Tower

Elevation: 2627 m
Elevation gain: 920 m
Read’s Tower is a distinctive outlier on the western slopes of Mount Sparrowhawk. The tower was named for skier Kevin Read, a member of the “Crazy Canucks.” The Crazy Canucks were a group of Canadian alpine skiers who rose to prominence on the World Cup circuit in the 1970s and 1980s where their reckless but effective style drew much media attention. Following a successful skiing career, Read has remained active in winter sports as a former president and CEO of Alpine Canada and a key leader involved in the creation of the “Own the Podium” program.
My Ascents:
June 24 2008

After setting out on a June morning with Mount Sparrowhawk as our objective, Grant and I quickly realized that the weather and current conditions (SNOW) would make the ascent unpleasant and, quite likely, dangerous. Plan B was quickly put into action and our focus shifted towards an ascent of Read’s Tower.

Like all good scrambles this one started with a moose.

A moose who got uncomfortably close...

Following the drainage suggested by Kane. The first half of the way up looked pretty much like this. A trail would have hit the spot (only years later did I discover that there is, in fact, a trail just to the south of the drainage that Kane suggests you go up!

Grant and I got quite excited at the first semblance of a view through the trees! Grant looks excited, doesn’t he?

The first view: A steep flank of Mount Sparrowhawk. It wasn't that overcast, the white at the top is actually all snow.

When there's still this much snow below the treeline, you may be in trouble...the correct route up Mount Sparrowhawk ascends just to the left of the high point (Read’s Tower) on the right.

Picturesque alpine scene looking down at Spray Lake.

Summits to the south.

Grant in front of Read's Tower. The route up Mount Sparrowhawk goes along the base of the cliffs. Too much snow?

The route up Mount Sparrowhawk follows the snow-filled chute, which appears to have been the site of several recent avalanches.

Close-up of the avalanches blocking our paths. It was at this point that we opted to save the summit of Mount Sparrowhawk for another, less snowy day!

Peak to the south.

We may not have been able to go up Mount Sparrowhawk, but we consoled ourselves by scrambling up Read's Tower which was windswept and bare.

Dizzying cliffs on Read's Tower.

The west flank of Mount Sparrowhawk from the summit of Read's Tower. The sun finally came out, granting us a view of the Three Sisters to the north.

Adjacent summits above the Sparrowhawk tarns to the south.

Grant enjoying the sun and the summit (of Read's Tower at least).

The summit of Mount Sparrowhawk itself remained shrouded in clouds and snow. We probably didn’t miss much in terms of the view!

Looking south along Spray lake from Read's Tower.

Spray Lake at our feet.

Looking north towards Canmore and Banff. The Big and Middle Sister still capped by snow.

Panorama of Spray lake from the top of Read's Tower. Click to see larger.

Summit pose before heading down.

Sun shining on Mount Sparrowhawk after we'd descended Read's Tower.

Fly on your wings like an eagle!

The only time we saw the summit of Mount Sparrowhawk (left) all day. Read's Tower is on the right. This view was only present for ~30 seconds before the clouds engulfed it again.

Post holing through the deep snow on descent.

Traipsing through the endless, pathless, moss and conifers upon descent. At least it was soft if and when you fell.