Grotto Mountain
A great leg workout above Canmore

Axel and I decided to give this one a shot after seeing the amount of snow on the south side peaks.

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There are three major routes to the summit of Grotto Mountain.
We chose the simplest - the ACC trail up the southwest ridgeline.
It starts along with the direct trail, at the ACC clubhouse, passing through the rolling benchlands before heading upslope.

Starting over the foothills.

A look up at the big cleft in Grotto Mountain.

Another creek valley.

A cairn marking one of two equally useful trails.

We took the left turnoff to follow the ridge trail, and began the aggressive ascent.
The trail has little reprieve for the full 1400m plus to the summit, but we took plenty of breaks.
The views to the south as the morning clouds lifted away gave us plenty of excuse to stop regularly for more photos.

Three sisters in dissolving clouds.

Mount Lougheed keeps its own cap cloud.

First and Main summits of Mount Rundle.

Cascade Mountain up the valley.

Pano of the south Bow Valley
(l-r) Mount Lougheed & Windtower, Wind Ridge (treed), The Rimwall, Three Sisters, Mount Lawrence Grassi, Miner's and Chinaman's Peaks.

The entirety of Mount Rundle. (scramble routes are EEOR at far left, summit third from right, and first peak at far right.)

The first change in scenery came when we reached the west ridge, perhaps halfway up.
We rose above the trees, and looked out to Mount Lady Macdonald and beyond.
This also began the second section of the hike, as we now switchbacked over rock and light snow towards the ridge above.

Rachel heads to the mountain edge.

Mount Lady Macdonald, west.

East view reflected in Axel's sunglasses.

A look up to the peak above us.

Our trail winds up and along.

When we reached the ridge we stopped and stared a while at the incredible masses of rarely explored mountains to our north.
The route along the ridgeline dips a little more towards the scrambling side of things. It is rarely difficult, but loose and with occasional ridges
When dry, this would pose no problems, but there was just enough snow on the ridge to slow our progress.

Rachel surveys the ridgeline from the west end.

Axel hikes along the ridge.

Axel descends the first miniridge.

More scrambley bits.

The little-travelled mountain ranges to our north.

We'd been watching the time carefully all day, and noticed the late hour as we progessed along the ridge.
We hiked about ten minutes past our set turnaround time, and eventually had to make the tough choice.
It sucked to turn back so close to the summit, but we didn't want to be coming back through the benchlands in the dark,
so we turned around and plotted our return.
We definitely made it high enough to get an incredible view - far beyond my expectations.
We're going to have to come back through to get this summit in.

Axel pauses on the ridge.

Rachel is reluctant to turn back.

Full pano from the highest point we reached.
Click here to see it labelled.

'Gap Peak'.

Mount Sir Douglas???

A last view of the summit from our unfortunate turnaround point.

The descent posed no problems beyond steepness, and we made it back just as it got dark, confirming our decision.

Heading back along the ridge.

Four peaks of Mount Lougheed.

Three Sisters in the fading sunlight.

Photos taken by Axel and Rachel

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