Sulphur Mountain (from the Cave and Basin)

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

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

Broken Goat: Best. Race. Ever.

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

Two runs, two ranges, two countries, two days

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

East End of Rundle: Short, steep, spectacular

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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Heart Mountain Loop

Looking north-east towards Mount Fable and Mount Yamnuska from Heart Mountain. Photo: Canmore Runner

Heart Mountain Loop. A steep, unrelenting, hands on scramble, followed by an undulating and spectacular ridge run as you gradually make your way up to and beyond the summit of Heart Mountain. And then a steep, technical, rocky descent that eventually gives way to an equally steep but more forgiving single track through the trees that gradually flattens out as you head back to the trail head. It’s only around 10.4km but that comes with more than 1,000m of elevation. It’s quite the workout. Continue reading

Yamnuska Loop

Taking in the view en route to the summit. Photo: Kimberley Al

Thank you Yamnuska. It was epic. It’s only about a 10km loop but you pack of lot into those 10km: a challenging but largely run-able climb that gains around 994m in elevation; easy-going forest trails that deliver you to the exposed and more technical backside of the mountain before reaching the summit with its breathtaking panoramic views. From there, a scorching, scree-skiing descent leads you around the frontside of the mountain and back into the trees before returning to the trailhead. It’s a blast. Continue reading

Skyrunner World Series 2016

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 21.01.24In case you missed it, the International Skyrunning Federation this week released the calendar for its 2016 World Series. 

“Skyrunning” is defined as running in the mountains up to or above 2,000m altitude. That is to say, it’s more than your average trail run.

Indeed, the press release states that the 2016 Skyrunner World Series takes skyrunning “to the next level” and is “going extreme”. When you look at the races that make up the series, they clearly mean it. Continue reading