I’ve driven past this mountain dozens of times and have been eyeing it up each time. It is a tourist trap – especially the gondola method of getting up it. The long slog of getting up it is not nearly as popular but it was on my list.
Sulphur Mountain is just outside Banff townsite. The trail head is at the Hot Springs parking lot. When you get there you realize the gondola is going the same direction you are. You have a choice. Slog it out, or take the easy, expensive route.
So on my last trip to BC, about a week ago, I didn’t have the family with me, so I left a couple hours earlier, just to get this climb in. I started climbing at 7:30 on a weekday which evidently was earlier than anyone else. I met a couple groups on my way down later in the morning, but otherwise it pleasantly lonely.
Most of the trail is two-person wide trail, with a rock base and A LOT of steep switchbacks. If you want a real switchback experience, this is it. You don’t get out of the trees until the very top. So the view is minimal on the way up, except for the odd peak through the trees. On the day I did it, it was foggy most of the way up. However, at the top, we were way above the clouds. The gondola must have just started as I got to the top, since there were only three people there when I got there, and by the time I left the top, it was up to dozens.
Amazing viewpoint! The Canadian Rockies in Banff are pretty impressive.
5.5km each way – 750m vertical – 1.25 hours up with very fast hiking and occassional jogging, 45 minutes down.
So, I’ve just crossed this climb off my list. Okay, what’s next?
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