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

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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Lady Mac – Part One – the Helipad

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The Three Sisters from Mount Lady MacDonald – Photo: Canmore Runner

One down (well, almost), three to go (sort of).

Mount Lady MacDonald, elevation 2,606m and one of the four peaks that make up the Canmore Quad, the others being Mount Grotto, Ha Ling, and the East End of Rundle. An 8km out-and-back and really quite challenging. It put the whole prospect of attempting the Canmore Quad at some point in the future in a new, more frightening, perspective. Continue reading

The Canmore Quad. Oh. La. La.

[This post was updated on 12 August 2017 to include Canmore-local Piotr Babis’ successful Quad attempt in July 2017]

Depending on how much you follow trail running, you might have noticed that there’s a lot of talk about “FKTs” or “Fastest Know Times”. As an article last year in Outdoor magazine put it: “A growing number of trail runners are finding a new way to test themselves, and it doesn’t involve race fees, bibs or finish line chutes.” Instead, trail runners are “enlisting their own stopwatch, navigational prowess, and determination to set trail fastest known times. They pick a route, decide whether they’ll receive help in the form of food or aid along the way, and try to cover the distance as fast as possible.”
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