Summit Aurora - Matt Snell Photography

In May of 2017, after just a few months of living in the Canadian Rockies I was blessed with the most unforgettable experience. Myself and a few friends decided to summit Mount Rundle under the strongest showing of the Northern Lights over the Bow Valley in a decade. 

The plan was always to summit East End of Rundle (EEOR) that night, but not till much later as we hoped to catch a sunrise summit. As we were discussing our plans and enjoying an evening bbq, I received a notification "AURORA RED ALERT". It was so early in the night, I checked the data and saw that this would potentially be the best aurora show we've ever witnessed (and a first experience for my friends). I turned to the guys and said something along the lines of "pack your bags, lets get to the summit asap". So we did just that, put together our day-packs, hopped in the car and were off to the trailhead. 

  • A rare view of the popular Ha Ling Peak as the Aurora shines bright above.

    A rare view of the popular Ha Ling Peak as the Aurora shines bright above.

  • Hiking up EEOR under dancing Northern Lights.

    Hiking up EEOR under dancing Northern Lights.

From the moment of we left the parking lot we could see the Aurora dancing above.  With each gain in elevation the display grew brighter and larger. We stopped a few times along the way to drink some water and really take in the experience around us. I'm quite surprised I didn't trip over my feet as I pretty well stared at the sky the entire hike up. The best moment though was yet to come.

As we neared our summit goal we could really see the aurora activity picking up. Our hearts began to race and the pace began to pick up. We reached the summit block and I could not believe my eyes. The aurora was the brightest I had ever seen and dancing throughout the sky in all directions like I had never seen before. I took out my tripod and went for the ridge while my friends climbed on up the summit block. As they stared in amazement I was equally in awe while capturing the following image. 

That magical and unforgettable moment. Reaching the summit of EEOR just as the sky absolutely exploded with colour and dancing Aurora. One of the rare times that a photograph exactly captures what we were seeing and experiencing.

That magical and unforgettable moment. Reaching the summit of EEOR just as the sky absolutely exploded with colour and dancing Aurora. One of the rare times that a photograph exactly captures what we were seeing and experiencing.

We spent several hours watching as the Aurora danced so bright. Being on the summit it almost felt as though we could touch the sky. Here's some of the images captured while we enjoyed the display.

Images on the Summit of EEOR

  • A rare view of the beautiful Town of Canmore.

    A rare view of the beautiful Town of Canmore.

  • Taking in the view over Canmore as the Northern Lights continued to dance across the sky.

    Taking in the view over Canmore as the Northern Lights continued to dance across the sky.

  • Watching the show over Mt. Rundle.

    Watching the show over Mt. Rundle.

  • Aurora dances over Mt. Rundle.

    Aurora dances over Mt. Rundle.

  • A self portrait of the aurora over the Town of Canmore.

    A self portrait of the aurora over the Town of Canmore.

As the Aurora slowed down and began to fade we decided to hangout on the summit and catch sunrise as it was only a few hours away. I laid down and just watched the stars and northern lights and reflected on just how incredible the previous hours had been. 

As the sun came up we enjoyed some hot coffee and welcomed the warmth of the light as it rose over the adjacent mountain range. We didn't spend very much time on the summit after the sun rose and enjoyed a beautiful hike back down to the valley to end our adventure. The light on Ha Ling was incredible and such a gorgeous sight to hike alongside to.

Hope you enjoyed reading a bit about our adventure. If you have any questions about gear or techniques used to capture these images please feel free to send me an email.

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