I've wanted to do a 4 peak day on Castle for a long time already. Unfortunately this was not to be the day!
On Saturday, June 17 2006, Wietse Bijlsma and I attempted a traverse of Helena Ridge, Stuart Knob, Castle North and Television Peak. We started at around 07:00 from the Rockbound Lake trail parking lot and soon were ascending quickly up the wide fire road. To be honest, this part was not as bad as I was worried it would be. The road is obviously easy to navigate and we could chat the whole way up. Soon we were 800 meters higher than the trailhead and passing Rockbound Lake.
Wietse had a good idea to do Helena Ridge first, rather than last and I readily agreed. We were both suffering some cold symptoms and the weather wasn't cooperating 100% either. Dark clouds were covering Castle North as we climbed the lower rubbly slopes of Helena Ridge.
Towards the top the weather started to clear again and we enjoyed the expansive views. After some quick pictures we started down the west ridge of Helena. This was fun scrambling and soon we were on the ridge to Stuart Knob. As we traversed over the ridge the weather continued to pull interesting tricks out of its sleeve. First there was some snow, than some rain and obviously some more severe weather was moving up the valley to the south.
I attempted a shortcut up the east side of Stuart Knob but that didn't pan out and so I had to descend again and we both traversed around the east cliffs and came up the south ridge of Stuart. I think you can go up a gully on the North but there was a lot of snow there. We were disappointed to see more dark clouds heading our way once on the summit. Another disappointment was the amount of snow on the traverse to Castle Mountain North.
We took some quick summit photos and headed down Stuart, back along the ridge to Helena. There would be no TV peak or Castle North on this day. We cut down the scree slopes to a cairned route through the cliff bands to the broad stoney plateau that the Castle Mountain group surrounds. After spending some time taking pictures and exploring the plateau we got our energy back and started up the slope for Castle Mountain South.
After stopping for lunch we continued up Castle South's slopes. Wietse didn't notice that his pack was a little lighter...
We gave up about 1km from the summit due to waist deep snow and the fact that we were rapidly running out of time. At our pace we would have been pushing a 16 hour day which was simply too much for the way we were both feeling. On the way down the alternate descent to the second plateau right above Rockbound Lake, Wietse noticed that his SLR digital camera was gone!! That's when we remembered that he put it down at our lunch spot and didn't pack it up! Thankfully I had my GPS and between that and Wietse's memory we found it back! Ironically it was only about 300m from that alternate descent!
We descended without further incident and came out to the parking lot under a light rainshower. All in all and excellent day out but it's funny how even two peaks left us feeling that somehow we had come up short.