December 23, 2011
This is a rather insignificant mountain sandwiched between the long Sundance Range and Mount Rundle, overlooking Banff townsite. However, due to the Banff Gondola, this is also one of the most frequently visited mountains in the entire park. It’s more commonly (or I should say, mistakenly) known as Sulphur Mountain, but its actually just the north end of Sulphur Mountain, and it has a separate name, Sanson’s Peak. The true summit of Sulphur Mountain lies further south and requires scrambling over a few false summits to reach.
The driving to the trail-head was a bit challenging given fact I only had a 2WD and without winter tires, but I made there nonetheless. The trail essentially does endless switch-backs directly up beneath the gondola chairlifts. The grade isn’t steep in particular, but in winter conditions it’s very energy consuming without traction devices. So after one hour, I decided to use snowshoes which had good crampon systems, to save some energy. The trail itself was also boring, because it’s below the treeline (felt very monotonous without the help of views). But when crossing the Gondola line, the view opened up a bit towards Mt. Rundle and Spray River Valley.
From the top of the Gondola Lift, a 0.6 km boardwalk led me to the summit, where a Cosmic Ray Observation Station was built. You do get a full panorama view from the summit, but since I’ve done Cascade Mountain, Mt. Rundle and the nearby lowly Tunnel Mountain, the summit view offered nothing very spectacular. The weather wasn’t perfect neither, as Mt. Aylmer, Mt. Inglismaldie, Mt. Giouard and peaks in Massive Range were hidden in the clouds.
The descent went uneventfully and I made very good on time. Back to the car it was only noon and apparently it was too short as a day trip, so I decided to cross something else off my list in the afternoon.