Posted by: TheAuthor | 26/08/2011

Mount Rundle

Before my time in Banff, Alberta Canada, comes to an end, there are a number of things I wish to accomplish. One of them, was to climb Mount Rundle. A towering and awe-inspiring 2,948 m/9672 ft of pure hard graft and shin burn. Mount Rundle looms over the town, often holding snow until the start of July, and dominates the landscape to the east.


To kick start the whole ordeal, we got a group of six together all ready to assault the mountain commencing around 8:30 A.M. The trail starts with a relatively passive incline, meandering through the trees as you traverse back and forth across Rundle. Over the course of a couple of hours, you climb two-thirds to one half of the mountain, with infrequent but spectacular views of the valley below and Sulphur mountain to the west. On this section of the hike in particular, it is advisable to travel in a group of four or more, plus carry bear spray, as Grizzly bears are often roaming the area.


Once you reach ‘The Gully’ you start the climb in earnest. Instead of traversing or minor inclines, you turn to head directly up the mountain. The gradient is steep, extremely steep and hard going. For the next hour or so, you work your way up and out of the tree line on the last of the trail before traveling across loose scree rock. We were still in good spirits, venturing further up the mountain side, for the peak was now visable to the naked eye.

As you leave the tree line, no trail is easily visible making the route finding a challenege to search for the most manageable route up.


Before long the trail narrows to around 5 ft wide, here begins what is known as the ‘Dragon’s Back’. With a sharp drop of 100 ft either side, you must be cautious as you progress further up on the mountain, loose rock and slippery surfaces can be scary for all climbing. Utilising both your hands and feet to climb really comes into it’s own here as the incline increases.


After the ‘Dragon’s Back’ the trail gets even more challenging, fortunately the ground widens up again – so that there is no fear of falling. However; the rocks range from a pebble to basket balls in size; are jagged and sharp; and are loose, slip and slide once you put any weight on them. The loose scree makes the going very hard, the remaining 40 minute hike is spent literally on your hands and knees scrambling on this unstable surface – strong shoes are a must! As one ‘helpful’ hiker remarked to a section of our group as the climbed “You should have brought poles with you” The response, although muttered under breath, was of distain at his comments.


Once you champion the loose rock, you are treated to incredible views of both the valleys of Banff and Canmore as well as Lake Minnewanka. Breath-taking is not a word that justly describes the views from the summit, seeing is believing. You are able to peer over the edge, to look directly down all 9672 ft to the ground – not advisable if you don’t like heights! As we sat eating our lunch, feet dangling over the edge, we each took photographs and thought about our ordeal. What an adventure it was, just the descent to cap off the day now.



The way down, instead of gradually getting more arduous as you progress, gets easier as you go. Until, eventually, you reach the base and the cool waters of the Bow Valley river, to dip your tired feet into. A welcome treat to any walker. For me, it was straight to the pub for a pint.


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