Okay, Canadian climate – we get it. Mornings are now a nippy 12 degrees Celsius and the leaves of my Hibiscus plant are yellowing and tumbling to the ground. Autumn is here, and instead of angrily grumbling, we may as well take advantage of it. Pashmina scarves, chocolate brown leather boots and pumpkin-spiced lattes aside, there is one thing every Montreal resident must indulge in before the snow and the wind-chill take over: a climb up the mountain.
Despite having lived in this beautiful city for 2.5 years, I’d never climbed (read: sauntered slowly) up Mount Royal until this past August, when my roommate’s friend visited from BC and we decided to show her the sights. With cameras and Raybans in hand, we began our ascent via the main path, which starts in Mount Royal Park, adjacent to the statue. This vast dirt path slowly curves its way up and around the mountain side, eventually leading to the Kondiaronk Lookout and an enormous visitor’s centre (Le Chalet) at the near-top.
Note: if you are not jogging, sprinting, roller-blading or biking up this path, you will instantly feel like a lazy fool. Our group of three only ‘overtook’ a few slow-walking couples during the entire 40-or-so minute jaunt up to the Lookout, and we were probably the only individuals in a three-mile radius not wearing running shoes. When we approached the Lookout, we opted to climb an enormous set of stairs to disprove our laziness, despite the fact that there are numerous staircases which more athletically-inclined persons often opt for the whole way up. Regardless, the scene was so spectacular that we instantly forgot our sweaty palms and instead joined the milling tourists for breath-taking views of Montreal’s downtown skyline and beyond (“I think I see Vermont!” “Uh no, Tyler – that’s Sherbrooke.”)
From there, we continued on a path that lead up and around Le Chalet, to Mount Royal’s famous 30-metre tall cross, adjacent to the mountain’s actual summit, which is 233 metres above sea level (Eat it, Everest!) Our descent consisted of taking several narrow and winding forest paths (that did not have any signage; we just hoped we weren’t going to pop out in NDG or something), thus ensuring near-total solitude and pretty scenery. No rock-repelling equipment required.
When the reds and oranges of autumn truly bloom, grab a map of the mountain, a camera and maybe the hand of someone tall and cute – we’ll meet you at the top!
~ Tyler Yank