French Haig Robertson
If you’re looking for a traverse in Kananaskis, this is it. The French-Haig-Robertson traverse is not too long, gets you up on glaciers with great views, and has a long mellow descent.
Park at the Burstall Pass parking lot. Begin by following the Burstall Pass hiking trail for about 400m, at which point you’ll hit an intersection. Take the left trail, and follow it up into the French Creek drainage. Shortly after reaching the creek at about the 2km mark, cross over to the left side, and ascend a short climb (if you follow the creek too far, you’ll be blocked by a waterfall). Head back into the drainage and follow it up a ways. As the forest breaks, you’ll gain view of the hole-in-the-wall couloir. Head up the left side of slope towards the couloir/French Glacier. As you head higher into the moraines, you’ll gain view of the pass that leads onto the Haig Glacier. Head up the pass. Once on the Haig Glacier, turn right and head west, skirting along a deep wind lip. It’s about 800-900m to the Robertson headwall from here. Once you’re at the headwall, you can skin up if you deem it possible, but most will bootpack. The headwall presents risk of avalanche, and it can often be icy (solar aspect) or wind hammered. Crampons and ice axe may be useful tools for the bootpack. From the top of the headwall, you’re ready for the descent.
You can ski down from the lowest point, or climb slightly right first. There are crevasses skiiers right, so it’s best to stay left if the snowpack is shallow. Enjoy the long and mellow ski down from here to the valley floor. Once you’ve reached the valley bottom, you can throw the skins on, or pole plant. Near the end of the valley, in the open flats, head right into the trees to join up with the Burstall Pass trail. Follow this trail back to the parking lot.