Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Mountain-Climbing Dream

Whew, I woke up from a dream wherein I was about to climb Mount Rundle at Banff.  One moment I was gazing at the mountain, the next I was geared up to start climbing the steep face.  I don't do mountain climbing.  I'm not afraid of heights but I do have a big fear of falling.  This was a bit of a nightmare!  At least I didn't wake up clinging to a rock wall unable to make myself take the next step....

It is a beauty, though, isn't it.  The classic thrust-fault Rocky Mountain.  I took this photo in October on my way home from the coast.

The smooth sloping face of Mount Rundle has formed the focal point for millions of photographs over the past 100 years. However, as countless visitors snap their shutters at this picturesque peak, few appreciate the summits role as a perfect representative of Front Range mountain structure. Few peaks show the dramatic impact of thrust faulting like Mount Rundle. The Mount Rundle Thrust Fault, found at the base of Rundle’s steep eastern slope, allowed massive layers to be pushed eastward several kilometres. Cascade Mountain and the Three Sisters are part of the same thrust sheet.
The lower slopes are composed of steep, sheer cliffs of Palliser limestone. These hard rocks were formed near ancient coral reefs where lime rich muds were deposited to incredible depths. Similar conditions can be found in the Caribbean today. Moving above these cliffs, the mid-slopes of the mountain take on a softer, more crumbly nature. These soft layers are characteristic of the Banff Shales which form the middle of this three layer sandwich. Dark, and rich in organic matter, the Banff Shales may be 1,200 m thick. Were the hard limestone summit of Mount Rundle to erode away, these shales would quickly follow. Soft and easily eroded, they offer little resistance to the persistent forces of erosion and weathering.
The sheer summit of Mount Rundle is composed largely of ancient marine shell fragments now stranded more than 3,000 m above the nearest ocean. These limestones are part of the Livingstone Formation of the Rundle Group


  1. We love watching snow drifting off the tip of Rundle during winter storms. This is our second favourite mountain on weekend cabin commutes. Our most favourite is Castle Mountain, at Castle Junction (formerly Eisenhower junction). Our favourite view is when approaching from the west on BC Hwy 93 near Marble Canyon. Views from the Bow River are also nice, see below:

  2. May have to copy and paste above address into your browser.

  3. Yes, Castle was always one of my fav mountains too. The early morning sun shining on the rock - as in the link you sent - too beautiful.

    When I was a kid we went to Alberta every Fall to visit one of my aunts. We almost always included a trip to Banff to see the mountains and soak in the hot springs. Rundle is pretty special for me because of that.

    Now I live far away from the mountains, again, well, I really miss them