Tunnel Mountain

Elevation: 1692 m
Elevation Gain: 300 m
Tunnel Mountain was originally referred to as Sleeping Buffalo Mountain by the Stoney people. In 1858, James Hector appropriately named the small peak “The Hill.” Later in 1882, a team of surveyors working to complete the Canadian Pacific Railway proposed building a 275 m tunnel through the mountain to do so. The tunneling idea was ill-conceived and described as the “most extraordinary blunder ever known in the way of engineering.” Although the tunnel was never built, the peak was officially named Tunnel Mountain. Today, the peak is a popular hike from the Banff town site.
My Ascents:
November 15 2014, December 22 2012

As November chugs along, the NHL hockey season is just starting to get interesting and the CFL playoffs are in full swing meaning that the focus of my weekends begins to turn from peak bagging to sports. With tickets to the Flames game on Saturday night and a day full of CFL semi-finals on Sunday, the chances for a mountain outing appeared slim this weekend.

With a high pressure system moving in over the Rockies, however, I was inclined to push my luck and see if I could convince Brianne to add a mountain to our already sports-clogged weekend roster of events. The trick would be to find a mountain so small that it can be bagged quickly and with minimal effort. Indeed, what we needed was a “mountain” that isn’t really a mountain. Enter: Tunnel Mountain!

Real mountains don’t have handrails.

The straightforward ascent gave Brianne ample time to dump snow all over our poor unsuspecting Crux.

Despite its diminutive stature, Tunnel Mountain, which sits in the heart of the Banff town site, still packs a reasonable scenic punch!

A short time after we started, we found ourselves approaching the summit with views of more impressive peaks all about.

The Bow River winds its way passed the Banff Springs Golf Course en route to Canmore and, eventually, Calgary.

Great views of the Fairholme Range including Mount Peechee.

Fairholme scrambles: Mount Inglismaldie (left) and Mount Girouard (right).

Lake Minnewanka makes a brief appearance at the foot of Mount Aylmer.

The Sundance (left), Massive (center) and Sawback (right) Ranges all visible beyond the Banff town site.

Mount Bourgeau.

Mount Brett beyond the much smaller (and poorly named) Massive Mountain.

The rest of my gallant summit party wondering why I’m bothering with so many summit photos on tiny Tunnel Mountain.

The mid-November sun barely rises above Sulphur Mountain.

A closer look at the historic Banff Springs hotel, nestled at the base of Sulphur Mountain.

Looking into Kananaskis Country towards the Goat Range and a more distant Mount Turbulent.

Mount Norquay: ski season appears to be upon us!

Mount Brewster.

The obligatory shot of Banff landmark Cascade Mountain.

A fine view of Banff’s other landmark peak, Mount Rundle, above the Bow River.

Brianne and Crux enjoy a conveniently placed seat to take in the spectacularly clear views one last time before charging back down the trail in the hopes of making it to the Saddledome in time for the Flames game that evening! Tunnel Mountain may not be a classic ascent but it certainly hits the spot as a pre-game warm-up!