Hiking Mount Rundle from Banff
Mount Rundle has several summits; the climbers' traverse description includes about ten. From the east, these include EEOR ("Daffern's summit" (I), then "Kane's summit" (II)), then two more that can be hiked before the going gets tough. Peaks IX and X are the last two before the mountain plunges into Banff via the Rundlehorn slabs. Both are described by Alan Kane, and IX, being the true summit of Rundle, attracts a lot of attention.
It's quite a haul up Rundle. 15 km round trip, and 1,530 m of ascent. The view down from the summit cliffs is sheer and intimidating. It's not one that I would rush to repeat, although the views were excellent, and it's a good workout for tackling more distant peaks.
The advantage of the mountain's popularity is a good trail for the first 6.5 km (surely the best thing to come out of the Banff golf course...sorry, old joke). The disadvantage is the crowds that it attracts. I've ranted previously about Muppet Mountain. Rundle is its big brother. Imagine if someone turned off the oxygen near the top of Ha Ling, and you'd get something akin to what I observed on Rundle. I saw numerous pilgrims - I assume - crawling up the mountain on their hands and knees. Of around 50 hikers that I passed, I only three had poles, and two of those were carrying them on their bags, while wallowing in some of the worst scree I've ever fought my way up. How was that enjoyable? Kane asserts that this walk is an excellent case for carrying ski poles. He's right - I tried a few steps without them and it was hell.
There was a liberal smattering of graffiti on the rocks, all along the trail, and especially towards the summit. In a National Park this is appalling. I struggle to reconcile this kind of thing with Parks Canada's agenda to push for providing greater wilderness access to people who have no concept of how they should behave beyond the city limits (and arguably none in general). Increased numbers of uninformed visitors equals greater environmental damage; on the summit of Mount Rundle that relationship is written on stone. Like Ha Ling, Rundle appears to be a sacrificial summit - one that is allowed to become a focal point for abuse so that others remain unscathed. As such, I can't recommend it.
|View looking towards Canmore from main summit of Rundle.|
|Another summit view, looking along the ridge|
|The dizzying view straight down the summit cliffs towards the Bow Valley|