Around Mount Rundle

Mount Rundle is awesome – the massive looming presence between Canmore and Banff, with its many pokey mountain parts of no-doubt highly significant and meaningful geological origin. I’ve read about it on numerous occasions, but fail to remember any of the details. I just know it’s a wonderful mountain.

So, Mount Rundle is wonderful. And we decided to ski around it. Well, someone had mentioned to me the idea of skiing around Mount Rundle last winter. I thought it sounded interesting, mentioned it to another friend, forgot I mentioned it to that friend, then she mentioned it back to me. Clear as mud? Probably.

The summary thus far: Mount Rundle is wonderful, and we wanted to ski around it.

The cast of this adventure was myself, Kat and Sarah. We set out through the Nordic Centre on Sunday morning, glad to be escaping the madding crowds before the races started. Straight out along Banff Ave, slowly slowly on our waxless/fish scale skis.

There had been a couple of centimetres of fresh snow the night before. After setting out onto the Rundle Riverside trail, we soon became incredibly grateful for this extra snow, as the snow cover along Rundle Riverside was incredibly thin in places.

In fact it was so thin that we suspect there was probably bare dirt in some spots on Saturday afternoon. Well, bare dirt, rocks and roots. It’s a good thing I was using rock skis.

On the whole though, the skiing was surprisingly nice. I say that based on the expectation it was going to be a bit horrendous though, so don’t get your hopes up. I think it could be quite pleasant with a little more snow cover though. It’s a nice peaceful section of forest there. Well, aside from the relentless noise from the highway… honestly, it’s mostly quite nice though.

It’s about 5.5km from the daylodge to the end of the Nordic Centre trails, then another 8km along Rundle Riverside before you hit the golf course roads in Banff. That 8km was definitely the slowest of the day, as we started having to alternate skiing and walking.

Eventually though, we did reach the golf course roads, where the marginal amount of fluffy new snow on the roads compacted nicely to be skiable. We cruised along, attempting to accurately identify trees, and pondering what to eat once we got to the Banff Springs. And trying to distract Sarah, whose toe hurt quite a lot after a crash early in the Riverside trail (we found out later that it was broken!).

On reaching Banff Springs, we swung in for soup, coffee, brownies and rehydration. And then Kat and I set out alone up Goat Creek. Which is definitely, and slightly inexplicably, more enjoyable in the uphill/towards Canmore direction.

With actual snow on the trail, and proper trackset tracks to ski in, we made pretty good time, despite the snow starting to stick to my skis like crazy.

We knew it would be windy when we reached the end of Goat Creek, and the weather forecast did not disappoint. Crazy strong gusts and overcast skies. We were intent on at least trying to walk down to Grassi Lakes though, and hopefully skiing down the easy Grassi hiking trail. At least six extremely chivalrous lone males stopped and tried to give us a lift as we walked the few hundred metres to the start of that trail. They mostly seemed to think we were crazy, but we managed to convince them that we had a plan, and didn’t need rescuing honestly.

Once we reached the trail though, we realised our plan would not work today. The trail was covered deeply in blown snow, and looked entirely uninviting. We wouldn’t be closing the loop today. So quickly we got a lift down to the Nordic Centre. Still – a good 40km or so of skiing, and not a bad local adventure.

Distance: ~40km
Elevation gain: ~955m

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