AB Cen = Alberta Rockies Central (Banff & David Thompson) Sulphur Mtn, Banff - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 12:07 AM Thread Starter
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Default Sulphur Mtn, Banff

Had some business in Banff & decided to go on a leg stretcher. Everyone knows about Banff Sulphur Mtn gondola that brings 1000's of tourists up. It is very close comparison to Van Grouse Skyride, including front side hiking trail. Difference -- in Banff downloads are free between October and May. I hiked Sulphur Mtn few yrs ago from the back via "Cosmic Ray", but this was first time I went up via "Sulphur Grind". Trailhead is at upper parking lot and switchbacks up through the forest back and forth mainly following gondola line. It is a bit steeper in final third but overall very gentle. Mostly slush with some mud but still few icy sections so I strapped Katolas although they were not really necessary. Once on top wondered a bit through the upper terminal (spoil me rotten!) then walked across the boardwalk to Sanson Peak. Cosmic Ray was closed as Parks seem to be doing some heavy trail clearing lower down. Free ride down felt nice ;-) Mostly overcast so just couple of pics:


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[Trailhead at upper parking lot. Slush and bit of ice start soon]


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[Few of these hiking signs could be seen, and they are quite tastefully done! Hiking pole is mine though]


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[Sulphur gondola cabin with Mt. Rundle in the background from one of many clearings along the trail]


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[Along the boardwalk between upper Terminal and Sanson Peak looking back]


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[Mandatory Banff area pano from the summit; Tunnel Mtn below lit by afternoon sunshine. Minnewanka in the distance still appears frozen]


This is a nice leg stretcher (specially when ride down is free!) About 680m vertical, 6.5 km one way; about 1.5 hrs moderate pace.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 03-13-2021, 02:14 AM Thread Starter
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Mid March '21


Looking at really nice sky decided to head up Sulphur for sunset. On Fri and Sat last download is 8:30 pm. New policy charges 1/2 price for download only, but it is free for locals (they do take your data for 'contact tracing'). So I headed up casually up switchbacks, wide compact, might need spikes coming down, but just boots going up it was fine. Despite very slow pace made it up in 90 min. Walked up boardwalk watching sun dropping behind Sundance Range. Cosmic Ray road down to Cave&Basin is closed because of forest burn Parks have been doing it seems whole winter, then sat in the lounge for 15min before taking ~7:30 pm download. Couple of pics:


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[This is what greets you as trail tops at upper terminal]


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[Main platform in front of gondola terminal, looking across to Cascade Mtn]


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[Pano east from boardwalk leading to Cosmic Ray. Upper Gondola terminal center]


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[Smoke from Sundance forest burn]


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[Cosmic Ray station]


Carried SLR and heavy but superb 70-300 lens hoping for some nice light at sunset and it paid off!


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[Mt. Aylmer, highest in Banff area. Astley ridge in foreground, must find my way up there later on. Views must be phenomenal]


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[Mt. Inglismaldie, main landmark rising above Minnewanka. Most of Kane route can be seen here]


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[Great sky above Rundle range with upper Gondola station in foreground]
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 03-14-2021, 09:38 PM
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Nice pictures, that upper gondola station looks huge. Good setting on a ridge so you get more views.
I just noticed the big clearcut on the west slopes on Google Earth, what's the deal with that? I thought it was all park around there.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 03-15-2021, 12:17 AM Thread Starter
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Is this what you refer to?
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This was an area with lots of deadfall & huge forest fire risk close to Banff townsite. So now Parks are doing controlled logging/thinning to address the situation


https://globalnews.ca/news/4917076/b...phur-mountain/


"Cosmic Ray" trail (old road) leads up these slopes & is popular ski trip. But it's closed now because they are burning all the deadfall, as seen at one of pics. Otherwise you can do nice loop; "Grind" up Sulphur Mtn Trail, and descend via Cosmic Ray, which ends at Cave&Basin site, headquarters of BNP & birthplace of Canadian National Parks, so there is lots of history too.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 03-19-2021, 09:29 PM
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Ya that clearcut is what I was referring to. Interesting, thanks for the link. Seems like it's far enough away from town to not warrant taking such drastic action, but I'm no expert. The 2015 view on Google Earth shows a green forest, did all of the trees suddenly die?
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 03-19-2021, 10:12 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by martin View Post
The 2015 view on Google Earth shows a green forest, did all of the trees suddenly die?

I am not sure. It has sunny exposure & it gets dry. There are doing lots of prescribed burns nearby along 1A as well. It is quite close to Banff townsite though; couple of summers ago when Simpson drainage was burning out of control (already in BC ~30 km west) there were talks about danger for Banff & need for evacuation. Banff is major tourist town so they are extra careful.

This is my own pic snowshoeing up these slopes in 2017; you can see bunch of dead trees
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Detail write-up, including both Cosmic Ray and Sulphur Mtn Trail with tons of pictures and maps here

Last edited by zeljkok; 03-22-2021 at 03:03 AM.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 03-23-2021, 08:48 PM
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Nice! More flowy, folding mountains with wedding cakes on top.
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