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Helena Ridge & Stuart Knob

Summit Elevation (m): 2862
Trip Date: Saturday, June 17, 2006
Elevation Gain (m): 1500
Round Trip Time (hr): 10
Total Trip Distance (km): 26
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 3 – you fall, you break something
Difficulty Notes: Easy to moderate scrambling depending on the route chosen up to the summit and on the alternate return. We combined Helena and Stuart Knob.
GPS TrackDownload GPX File
Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)
Map: Google Maps


I’ve wanted to do a 4 peak day on Castle for a long time already. Unfortunately this was not to be that 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.

Panorama of Rockbound Lake.

Helena Ridge

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.

Helena Ridge & Stuart Knob Route Map

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.

Castle Mountain and a sparkling green Tower Lake from the ascent slope 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, heading towards Stuart Knob. This was fun scrambling and soon we were on the ridge to Stuart Knob.

Vern on the summit. Johnson Creek at lower left and the east outlier at distant right.

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.

Castle Mountain, the plateau and Rockbound / Tower Lake from the summit of Helena Ridge.

After some quick pictures from the summit of Helena Ridge, Wietse and I started down the west ridge of Helena, heading towards Stuart Knob. 

Stuart Knob

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.

Nearing Stuart Knob and looking east over the impressive Castle Mountain upper plateau. Helena Ridge at left, Castle Mountain South at distant center.

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.

Wietse hiking along the ridge to Stuart Knob from Helena Ridge.
Castle North from the summit of Stuart Knob. I still can’t believe we didn’t do the 15 minute hike to nab it…

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 stony 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…

Impressive views over the huge eastern plateau of Castle Mountain. Helena Ridge at left and Castle Mountain at distant center right.
Wietse marches towards Castle Mountain South.

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.

Helena Ridge at left and Helena Ridge east peak at right.

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 rain shower. 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.

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