Monday, September 26, 2011

Mt Edith Loop - does the scenery really get any better than this?

The Mount Edith loop in bob Walker's book  gets a five runners rating, and I have to say that of all the runs I've done this summer, the Edith Loop has possibly the most spectacular scenery of the lot. The book says 12km, I measured 14, and with 1100m of climbing, it's definitely no push-over, especially the first grind up the switchbacks. But persevere and you'll be rewarded with some incredible mountain running.

Time on the day, 2h 30m.

The first steep switchback section, Vermilion lakes in the background

Glimpse of what's to come later

Gaining the initial ridge line

Stellar trail running

Headed to pass in the centre

Cory Pass

About to drop over Cory Pass 
Mt Louis

Looking back up towards the pass

Check out the trail snaking down

The Canmore quad with Phil

A few weeks ago I had a blast up Ha Ling & EEOR in 2h 40m. How hard can the 4 corners of Canmore really be I thought? Grotto mountain, Mt Lady MacDonald, EEOR and Ha Ling, all done in a day, entirely under your own steam, no shuttles or bikes allowed. Phil Villeneuve posted on Facebook that he was looking for partners for his attempt, so I decided to give it a go.

Well it turned out to be a stellar day in the mountains. Unfortunately Phil's quick pace and the hot temperatures, plus around 8 hours of running already in my legs from the previous 7 days, meant I was unable to finish all four.

Grotto was a first for me -  a real steep grunt, followed by an an amazing windy ridge to the summit proper. Then Lady Mac, and an even windier summit ridge that threatened to blow me off. We fuelled up at Phil's house downtown, but I knew heading up to Whiteman's gap that I was close to being done. The first 3 or 400m of steep climbing up Rundle confirmed that it wasn't to be my day. But hey, they'll be there for another attempt one of these days! And next time I'll be rested and tapered!

My time for the day  - 7h 43mins, 3400m of climbing.

Awesome effort by Phil on cracking all four in just over 11 hours. That'll take some beating. You can read about it at :

Here's a few pics I snapped.

Summit no 1 - Grotto Mtn

Looking towards Assiniboine from Grotto

The Grotto Mtn summit ridge

Looking down to Canmore

Phil live-tweets the whole day!

Looking down from Lady Mac - summit 2

Cooling off in Cougar Creek 
Looking down towards the 'tea house' on Lady Mac

Day's end - perfection

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fast & light, Mt Shark to Sunshine

It was a quick in & out, with 4 hours sleep at Assiniboine. Zidek & I hatched the plan over a beer 2 days earlier, a beer with none other than Andre Renner, king pin of Assiniboine Lodge.

We left Shark at the ridiculously late time of 21:45 - I had to work late - dashed in over Assiniboine Pass arriving some time after 01:00. Four hours later we were up. As luck would have it we were offered a hearty breakfast of pancakes & sausage - how Zidek manages this kind of feat time & time again continues to amaze me. Still, it definitely beat my planned breakfast smorgasbord of honey stingers and gel. We paid with our time, doing the washing up, I kid you not.

Then off down the trail, arriving at Sunshine a few short hours later.

Total running time - around 7 hours - including 3 hours in the dark!

Definitely one to do if you have a day or two.

Breakfast joint
That's Assiniboine in the clouds
Should've had those axes on Northover....
Nice matching shoes

The traverse in to Citadel Pass
Topping out on Citadel pass, Zidek feeling the distance in his oversize quads

We had rain, hail, sunshine

Pretty happy to find the truck at Sunshine village. Thanks Anna & Saira!

An epic day on Northover Ridge

I've fancied having a bash at the Northover traverse for quite a while now, especially as it's described in Bob Walker's book as possible the 'best run anywhere'. High praise indeed, but my timing for an attempt wasn't ideal to say the least!

2 days earlier, Canmore was greeted to our first taste of some real snow, and I was a bit concerned that despite rapidly warming temperatures, there would still be a lot of the white stuff lingering up high.

I wasn't wrong.

The initial trails up to Three Isle Lake were an absolute delight, but I was soon greeted to what looked more like a Scottish winter corrie, than one of the best 'trail runs anywhere' !

I saw what looked like fresh tracks up to the col, and was amazed to discover that I was following 3 sets of fresh bear prints, with fresh bear scat. The bears were better equipped than I was though, as I was forced to turn back a few hundred metres along the ridge. There was a sizeable cornice, and thigh deep snow meant pretty sketchy conditions.

I was exactly half way. The run back was a blast, but there is some unfinished business here.

Distance 35km.

Three Isle Lake 
Looking back towards Three Isle Lake & the Haig Glacier area 
Early season cornice on Northover Ridge 
Looking back at my trails, and the bear tracks coming up to the col 

Relieved to be off the ridge in one piece! 

Upper Kananaskis lake 

Suunto to the rescue

I've been meaning to upgrade my watch for a while. I have been using a Garmin Forerunner for some time, and whilst the GPS functionality is great, it doesn't provide real time altitude data, and I think the GPS altitude data is pretty inaccurate. So I've upgraded to the Suunto t6d watch (thanks Saira for the birthday gift!)

I get all kinds of data to look at and take my mind off the trail running task at hand. I'll try to add some data to my posts for the nerds out there.

Canmore Middle Sister

I've lived in the Bow Valley now for almost 10 years, and unbelievably, despite them being so 'out there for the taking' I had yet to scale any of the iconic Three Sisters peaks.

So 2 weeks ago, when a window of several hours presented itself, I decided to have a jaunt up Middle Sister. Having never been up there, and with a complete lack of beta, I set out on a day when there were no mountains to be seen from the valley floor. Really, I had no idea what the terrain was like, or how long this trip was going to take for that matter.

Map in hand and the two trusty dogs in tow, we cranked this trip the whole way.

The clouds cleared in a pretty dramatic fashion as we reached the summit ridge, and it really was an amazing vista. A few snaps and then a quick turnaround. The ridge is pretty breathtaking, and I can only imagine the views on a clear day.

Total time 2h 56mins (including getting lost in the golf course!)

It occurs to me as I write this that an up & over of Big and Middle Sisters would be one helluva trip. Mmmm....

Dogs enjoying a strenuous day out

 Pretty amazing vista to distant K country peaks