Banff, Canadian Rockies: climate contrast

Completing my blog posts about the summer in the Greek islands I wrote about Kalymnos that it was: “only a short stay but a good way to round off the summer and pause for thought before heading for the Canadian Rockies and a starkly contrasting climate and mountain experience”.  The contrast is indeed stark.

Also contrasting is the weather back in the UK which, according to the Met Office forecasts, continues to be grey, wet and dismal with humidity stuck at over 90% and temperatures about 6-10 degrees.

This blog post tries to show in pictures just how different things are here in Banff and the surrounding mountains.  Temperatures in the mornings are typically minus 15 to minus 25, occasionally dropping to below minus 30 with added wind-chill going down to below minus 40 making it necessary to cover up every inch of skin before venturing out of the ski lodge.  Afternoon temperatures can soar to a toasty minus 5 ….. occasionally.  Some hardy locals still go around in shorts but not me. I wear sandals in the hotel but haven’t yet ventured the 50 yards along the street to the brew pub in them.

There is snow cover everywhere.  Side streets in the town are thick with compacted snow and ice.  All rooftops are snow-covered.  Branches of the millions of Lodgepole Pines along the Trans Canada Highway (the longest paved road in the world) hang down under heavy snow accumulations.  Where it has been blown off by wind they gleam with hoar frost in the bright sunlight.

This is proper winter.  Love it!!


Looking down the Bow River from the town bridge in Banff, 8,495 foot Mount Rundle behind


… the summit wind blowing the fine snow near horizotal


Thick ice on the river is broken as it approaches Bow Falls


….. and then tumbles down


The right angle bend at the foot of Mount Rundle leads  towards the Fairholme range


The Spray River joins the Bow at the right angle bend at the Falls, upstream is cliffed on both sides


Standing on the edge, snowshoes the easiest way to get around


At the riverbend water is pumped from the Spray River onto a level field to create a much used skating pond.  reminiscent of a painting by LS Lowry or Pieter Brueghel the Elder


On the ski-bus to Lake Louise, Castle Mountain majestic in the background, in the foreground small trees blurred by speed


Coasting down Easy Street, the broad run back to the main lodge at Lake Louise


Looking across the Bunny Hill


The Top of the World.  At Lake Louise anyway


At the top of the Lake Louise gondola, trees blown clear of snow but frosted


At the end of the afternoon, cloud formations indicate the pending arrival of the Chinook and a rise in temperature the next day.


From the hotel in the centre of Banff, an accelerating gradient up Caribou Street to Tunnel Mountain Drive, in winter closed to vehicles.  Not surprisingly.


And then onto Tunnel Mountain Trail.  Cleats on boots a definite advantage


Close to the top, a pause to admire the majestic Mount Rundle just across the deeply incised valley


Even closer to the top the national Park Authority have placed red chairs to sit and admire the view over Banff and upstream on the Bow River.  I love the zany idea but sadly others have criticized it as inappropriate










This entry was posted in Canada, Greece, Grey Britain, Hiking, Landscape, Mountains, Photography, Uncategorized, Weather, Winter and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Banff, Canadian Rockies: climate contrast

  1. Parachute1 says:

    Love it, looking forward to getting there next weekend and meeting up.

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