Four things I didn’t manage to blog about in 2017…

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Fitzy, at the Plain of Six Glaciers, Lake Louise Photo: Canmore Runner

You could be forgiven for thinking that not much happened for Canmore Runner in 2017, beyond some spectacular runs earlier in the year in Annecy and Courmayeur with Canmore running sensation Fitzy. But contrary to the saying, “if it isn’t on [insert social media here], it didn’t happen”, just because I didn’t find the time to blog about it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. And for sure, 2017 saw some beautiful runs in and around Geneva, a quick trip back to Canmore, and one cracking ultra. So, in no particular order, here are some things that I didn’t quite manage to blog about in 2017… 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

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

Heart Mountain Loop

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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

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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

New year, new route: Prairie View – Jewel Pass Loop

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View from the trailhead – A frozen Barrier Lake looking towards “Mary Barclay’s Mountain” and Grant MacEwan Peak  Photo: Canmore Runner

I’m not really one for new year resolutions. However, in keeping with an earlier post, looking back to look forward, I have resolved to focus more this year on running in pursuit of adventure and discovery rather than racing, intervals and hill repeats. This is not to say that I won’t train and race. On the contrary, Ms. Canmore Runner and I have signed up for the Broken Goat 50K in July and i’m very excited at the prospect of hitting the trails in Rossland BC. However, I don’t want racing to be all that I focus on this year. I want some adventure.

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Mount Bourgeau – Truly Epic

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Summit bound…

Mount Bourgeau. Altitude 2,931m, named by James Hector in 1860 after Eugène Bourgeau, a botanist with the Palliser Expedition. First climbed in 1890.

125 years and countless hikers and runners later, Canmore Runner puffed his way to the summit in the great company of Mike Fitzpatrick, coordinator of Canmore Trail Culture and Mount Bourgeau alumni. Continue reading