Barnaby Ridge

Summit Elevation (m): 2471
Trip Date: September 19, 2016
Elevation Gain (m): 1600
Round Trip Time (hr): 8
Total Trip Distance (km): 19
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1/2 – you fall, you sprain something, i.e. your ego
Difficulty Notes: Slightly more difficult than Southfork Mountain but still only easy scrambling with some routefinding to keep it easy. Note: The statistics include both Southfork and Barnaby.
Technical Rating: SC5; YDS (Hiking)
GPS Track: Gaia
MapGoogle Maps

After getting over a serious lack of motivation and summiting Southfork Mountain, I decided to give myself an hour towards Barnaby Ridge to see where that would take me. The weather seemed to be clearing a bit but the wind was pretty strong (normal for the Castle Wilderness Area!) so I bundled up in my Gore-tex layers and trundled off, south along Barnaby Ridge towards it’s unseen summit.

Southfork Mountain to Barnaby Ridge Route Map

I knew that I was in for some ups and downs on the south ridge to the summit and I was right. The first serious bump after Southfork offered the only real scrambling of the day – it was fairly easy if you stick to climber’s right on the way up. The trick to not tiring yourself out unnecessarily on this traverse is to find and use sheep trails that cut off unnecessary elevation gains – these are sometimes obvious and sometimes not. After the first bump I found myself looking at a pretty wild scene! The wind wasn’t as strong as earlier on Southfork, and the clouds were lifting somewhat and even letting the sun through. The summit looked a LONG ways off and I almost turned back at this point but my hour wasn’t up so…

The weather continues to cooperate as I drop down towards the interesting bench traverse towards Barnaby.

After dropping down to yet another col along the ridge I found myself on a pretty neat bench and obvious bivy spot. This would be a great place to spend a night just above treeline with some pretty killer views towards Castle Mountain and Windsor Peak. I took a quick break here and made my final decision. I was feeling it. I was going to bag Barnaby today. I set up doing just that, traversing upwards towards the second high point along the ridge.

The nice ‘bivy bench’ on the way to Barnaby Ridge.

The final drop before Barnaby wasn’t too bad – the summit looked awesome in the play of sun and clouds and I was feeling pretty good about making a double summit on a day when I really didn’t expect to make even one. The views towards Castle Peak and her surrounding peaks were pretty darn spectacular as I groveled and hobbled my way up to the summit of Barnaby Ridge – thankfully the closest high point for once! At the summit I traversed a bit to the east to get some unbelievable views of Castle and Windsor mountains. I was pretty stoked to be standing there all alone with the wild scenery of fall spread out underneath me. Familiar Castle peaks like Haig, Gravenstafel, Syncline, St. Eloi, Victoria and Table stood out like old friends.

An incredible summit panorama of the Castle Wilderness Area from the summit of Barnaby Ridge, looking north (L), east (C) and south (R). From left to right summits include, St. Eloi, Syncline, Southfork (hidden), Table, Whistler, Gladstone, North Castle, Victoria, Castle, Windsor, Pincher Ridge and West Castle.
Another angle on the fantastic alpine bowl between the first intermediate bump from Southfork to Barnaby and the second one (this taken on return).
Castle Peak, West Castle Peak and Windsor (L to R).
A compressed panorama looking north to Crowsnest Mountain and the Crowsnest Pass area.

After snapping way too many photographs I reluctantly turned around and looked at the traverse back towards Southfork. The only disadvantage of doing the route via Southfork Lakes is that you either need to reverse all the ups and downs along the ridge back to Southfork or drop down and hike a bunch of kilometers to your car. The dropping down option is easiest but boring. So I chose to go back along the ridge to the summit of Southfork Mountain. The views were great again on the way back which dulled some of the pain.

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