Tent Ridge. Wow.

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James Kendal descending Tent Ridge – Photo: Canmore Runner

Oh brother, was I ever kicking myself. Why, oh why, oh why, leave it until now, my last week in Canmore, to run Tent Ridge. I’d heard about it ages ago and I knew from others that it was something special. So why the delay in getting up there and experiencing one of, if not the, most spectacular run that Kananaskis Country has to offer? It’s a rhetorical question of course. It wasn’t that i’d been sitting around doing nothing. I’d been busy running up, down and along other mountains and ridges. But let this be a warning to you: if you’re looking for a 10km run, with 879m of elevation, that has it all from technical singletrack through the trees, to hands-on scrambling, stunning, drawn out mountain vistas and a fast, technical descent back down, then make haste for Tent Ridge. You won’t be disappointed. Continue reading

Sulphur Mountain (from the Cave and Basin)

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View from Sanson’s Peak, looking towards Tunnel Mountain, the Bow River and Lake Minnewanka – on a day that was, weather-wise, nothing like the day that I ran Sulphur Mountain – Photo: Canmore Runner

Sulphur Mountain, 2,451m elevation and, it turns out, a total treat. I hadn’t expected it to be thus. This was never on my ever-burgeoning list of “must-do runs”, partly because of its status as one of Banff’s major tourist attractions. Every summer, thousands of tourists take the 8-minute gondola ride to Sanson’s Peak, or hike there from the Upper Hot Springs along a series of switchbacks that wind their way up beneath the gondola. Of course, there has to be a reason why it’s so popular and it might just be the “breathtaking vistas in every direction” and the “stunning bird’s-eye view of six incredible mountain ranges”. As luck would have it, you can still enjoy those same vistas while mostly avoiding the masses en route by taking an alternative and challenging 8km trail to Sanson’s Peak that begins at the Cave and Basin historic site. Continue reading

Lady Mac – Part Two – the Summit

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Lady Mac (centre), as viewed from the Highline Trail – Photo: Canmore Runner

It had to be done. I’ve climbed Lady Mac several times since my first, chilly and icy ascent in January that I wrote about here. For time or weather-related reasons, i’d only ever managed to make it to the helipad, a still challenging 8km out-and-back with close to 1,000m of elevation. Then, one July morning, I found myself with enough time (and fantastic weather) to make it to the summit. And it was spectacular. I also came to appreciate that those responsible weren’t messing around when they named the last few hundred metres to the summit “Knife-Edge Ridge”. Continue reading

Grotto grind.

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Grotto Mountain (right), Lady Mac (left) – Photo: Canmore Runner

“Friends don’t let friends run Grotto”. It was good to be told this (Simon and Emily), two days after Ms. Canmore Runner and I had ground our way up and down Grotto Mountain. While knowing this in advance wouldn’t have stopped us, forewarned is forearmed and we might have been better prepared for the 10km (with 1,429m of elevation) slog that lay ahead and that really put the Canmore Quad into perspective. As I stood on the summit of Grotto, I thought to myself: “Seriously? You do this and then run up Lady Mac, Ha Ling and East End of Rundle?” My hope of one day achieving this feat was starting to feel as shaky as my legs. And we still had the descent to contend with. Forty-five quad crushing minutes, two falls, a bloodied wrist and shin later, I was starting to think that the “Triple Crown” of Lady Mac, Ha Ling and East End of Rundle would still be a significant – and more enjoyable – achievement. Continue reading

Ha Ling

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Mount Lawrence Grassi from the Bow River. The peak of Ha Ling on the far right – Photo: Canmore Runner

Located at the northwestern end of Mount Lawrence Grassi, Ha Ling looms large over Canmore, along with its fellow Canmore Quad peaks of Lady Mac, East End of Rundle and Grotto. At an altitude of 2,407m, it’s the lowest of the Quad summits and with a distance of 3km from trailhead to peak makes for a relatively speedy if technical climb along some switchbacking rocky and root strewn singletrack that eventually gives way to scree followed by a short scramble over rock to the summit. Once there, the views are stunning. Continue reading

Broken Goat: Best. Race. Ever.

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Photo: Matt McDonald

Best. Race. Ever.

Two hours 59 minutes earlier, as I toed the starting line for the 25Km version of the Broken Goat, I hadn’t anticipated that those would be my first words after crossing the finish line. Nor had I anticipated that I would say them to the race director, Rene Unser, as she hugged me, pom-poms in hand. But that’s what happened. And I meant it. I had just taken part in the best race ever. And I’d just run my best race ever. Continue reading

High Rockies Trail – 4 – Mount Buller Out-and-Back

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High Rockies Trail between Spray Lakes day use area and Mount Buller – Photo: Canmore Runner

Have I mentioned how much I love the High Rockies Trail? I might have done. Like here, here, and here. Until now, if I was pushed to find fault with this trail, at least the sections i’ve explored, the most I could manage is to complain about the trees – that as amazing, challenging and fun as the trail is to run, you spend a lot of time staring at trees. Lots of trees. This week’s run, however, a 10km out-and-back from the Mount Buller day use area, with 590m of elevation, changed all that. Yes, there was still beaucoup de trees. But there were also magnificent sections of exposed trail that lay the valley bare before you. On a clear, bluebird kind of day, it would be absolutely stunning.

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Two runs, two ranges, two countries, two days

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Mont Blanc and the Bossons Glacier from Chamonix  Photo: Canmore Runner

If you follow me on Twitter (@canmorerunner), you will know that i’ve been on a short European trail running adventure. It involved two runs in two stunning mountain ranges (the Alps and Jura), in two countries (France and Switzerland) in two days. And it was terrific. The weather during the French stage was a bit hit and miss, but there’s nothing like darkening skies and rapidly approaching rumbles of thunder to put a spring in one’s step. Continue reading

An overdue salute to the trail builders

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Ms. Canmore Runner enjoying the superbly built High Rockies Trail – Photo: Canmore Runner

I’ve been remiss. I’ve spent almost two years enjoying spectacular trails in and around Canmore and Kananaskis. And i’ve spent close to 18 months writing about those trails on this blog. But have I once spared a thought – or a word or two – for those that volunteer their time and effort to actually build and maintain these trails? Nope. Time to right that wrong as I wouldn’t be having all this fun and adventure without the vision, dedication and hard work of the trail builders.  Continue reading

East End of Rundle: Short, steep, spectacular

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East End of Rundle (left) – Photo: Canmore Runner

Known locally as EEOR, there is nothing gloomy, depressing or otherwise donkey-like about the East End of Rundle. On the contrary, it’s short, steep and spectacular. At an altitude of 2,530m, EEOR looms large over Canmore, along with its fellow Canmore Quad peaks of Ha Ling, Lady Mac and Grotto. The 2.5km trail to the summit (with 899m of elevation) is steep and shaded to begin. But it soon emerges from the trees to reveal spectacular views of the Spray Valley, Ha Ling and – once you’ve scrambled to the summit – Canmore and the Bow Valley. If it’s not on your list of short, steep and spectacular runs, it should be.

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