Grotto Mountain

Featured photo of Grotto Mountain

Route Description- Park at the Alpine Club of Canada’s clubhouse and national office in Canmore. Walk down the gravel road to a single track trail on your left well before the Canmore Pony Club. This trail ascends steeply and intersects an east west trail. Proceed east (right) for a short distance on this trail in an attempt to line up with the right side of the box canyon cut deep into the center of Grotto Mountain.

This is a 4500’+/- ascent day. Start an unrelenting steep ascent here and stay on the edge of this ridge (canyon to your left). This is the most direct route up to the summit of Grotto Mountain, albeit a steep plod. I have witnessed mountain sheep and blue grouse in this vicinity. Eventually you will clear the tree line at 7300'. Since I ascended during early season conditions in 2003, I strapped on my crampons and knocked out 1100' straight up hooking into a southwest ridge that leads to the summit. There is a summit cairn and register. The views are plentiful including the scramble and alpine rock route (East Ridge) of Grotto’s more popular neighbor, Mt. Lady MacDonald.

To complete the traverse on descent, proceed west along the summit ridge towards Cougar Canyon (Northwest Route). This high ridge affords you great views of the Bow Valley and mountains beyond. As you near the end of the ridge, start angling south (down) and catch a steep switchback trail made by the Alpine Club right above tree line. Stay far enough to the west to avoid descending any dramatic rock bands that get flushed out into the deep box canyon. Once onto the trail, descend coming back east essentially making a triangle out of the traverse. The trails get confusing once you reach the benchlands, so a compass heading might be helpful when you start out, although in good weather you should have little problem making out the Alpine Club facilities.

I have completed the Grotto Traverse twice, in April and May. On one early ascent, as before mentioned, I used crampons to ascend the final 1100’ on a wind packed snow slope. Depending on the year however, the route could be relatively dry by May. Basically this trip forms a triangle circuit, giving one a great ridge hike at 8500' with dangerous cornices on your right if early season. I encountered no scramblers on these early ascents, but this is a popular scramble due to its proximity to Canmore and the Alpine Club.

Essential Gear- Helmet, Gaiters, Bear Spray, Alpine Ax and Crampons if Early Season

Elevation (feet): 8,878
Elevation (meters): 2,706
Continent: North America
Country: Canada
Range/Region: Canadian Rockies
Province: Alberta
Latitude: 51.0833
Longitude: -115.267
Difficulty: Scramble
Nearest major airport: Calgary
Convenient Center: Canmore, AB

Thanks to Craig Knelsen for adding this peak.

Trip Reports

NOTE: Trip reports were previously called "Summit Logs" - same feature, new name

There are 8 trip reports for Grotto Mountain.

Select any entry from the list below:

  • Log #22204 - by raizur on July 25, 2011
    The climb was absolutely a blast. Snow to the hips in spots and the summit ridge was sketchy to say the least. A true push to new levels... In the winter cornices abound the summit ridge line.
  • Log #19097 - by Dow Williams on Feb 14, 2006
    Park at the Alpine Club in Canmore. Walk down the road to a trail on your left. Proceed east enough to line up with the right side of the canyon cut deep into the mountain. Start an unrelenting steep...
  • Log #18329 - by E. B. on Sep 14, 2004
    Started fairly early (9:00 am) taking the direct route. It was poorly defined and we wound up just bushwacking/following game trails -- this was not an issue though, considering the only approach was...
  • Log #18330 - by Dean Perkins on Nov 05, 2003
    Lots of snow, a total slog up with a decent view from the top (quite a bit of cloud movement on the day bringing some snow). -15C at the top and -10C at the bottom. Fortunately, some nice glissading...
  • Log #18331 - by Tim L. Helmer on Oct 12, 2003
    This was one year to the day that I had summited Cascade Mountain just down the valley. I made it to the summit and back in under 4 hours combined with rest stops and photo shoots by the ACC...
  • Log #18332 - by Bill Sutton on Oct 12, 2003
    The NW ascent route was a slog. Willa and I strongly recommend taking the direct route up (scramble). IF we ever return, this is the route we will choose. This was a disappointing day :(
  • Log #18333 - by Brian Plett on July 01, 2003
    We took the NW route with a group of 15 high-school students from Winnipeg. After we cleared the tree line, only 5 students and four staff members went the rest of the way. The winds along the ridge...
  • Log #18334 - by Craig Knelsen on June 21, 2003
    I followed the excellent trail behind the ACC clubhouse and reached tree line in two hours, twenty minutes. Just above treeline, the switchbacks end and you get your first glimpse of the summit off...