Tunnel Mountain used to be called ‘Sleeping Buffalo’ by the indigenous Nakoda people because from certain directions it looks like ………. a sleeping buffalo. Knew a thing or two about naming places did the original inhabitants of North America. Now it’s called Tunnel Mountain …………… because there isn’t a tunnel.
In 1882 a 275 metre long tunnel was proposed by a team of surveyors to keep the route of the Canadian Pacific Railway along the line of the Bow River. The General Manager of the company went nuts at the proposal, unwilling to commit to a scheme which would cause considerable cost and delay. An alternative route was followed but the name stuck to the mountain.
At 1,692 m (5,551 ft) it is one of the smaller mountains near Banff but rising 1000 feet straight out of the town the Tunnel Mountain Trail is much used by locals and visitors. That’s what I did with the afternoon of my day off from skiing.
It’s a sustained climb 2 miles straight up from the hotel at a good gradient but slower going than I would have liked because I’m not yet fully acclimatised to the altitude. Under almost flawless blue sky and with a little heat in the sun a month after the solstice it was fabulous short trek with views down to the Bow Valley 1000 feet below and up to adjacent commanding peaks such as Mount Rundle, Sulphur Mountain and Cascade Mountain.
As ever I was reluctant to leave the top, seductively warm on sunned sloping rock slabs. I was joined by a French Canadian and his Japanese lady friend and we squatted on the ground for over an hour drawing maps of Britain and Ireland in the snow, discussing national culture and the complex and still unfolding political histories of our homelands.