I’m not 100% sure when I first spotted either Castle Peak or Windsor Mountain but it must have been early in my scrambling career when I first started traveling hwy 22 to the Castle area north of Waterton National Park. I loved this trip way more than I expected and it should be on every Rockies scrambler’s list for its varied landscapes and incredible views.
As we drove slowly back to the hwy Sara and I agreed that this was one of our more relaxing multi-day outings of 2022, actually it was by far the most relaxing one. With the first day only coming in at 9 hours 1650 meters of ascent and the second at less than 8 hours and only just over 1000 meters ascent we didn’t feel too stressed. I’m sure that for me the ultralightweight backpacking system had a lot to do with it – I decided to test it on a 2 night trip immediately after this one. A highly recommended late summer or fall trip for fit parties wanting to experience some of the Castle Wildernesses more remote peaks and valleys.
Wietse and I were shocked that our total time for this trip was only 11.5 hours with an average pace of 4.2 km/h for the day! Despite being painful we agreed that this is a pretty good outing for hikers and scramblers who don’t mind a long bike approach and a bit of work. Instead of carrying a much heavier overnight pack you can squeeze 2 days into 1, bag three summits and get some pretty sweet views for all your efforts. There is very little (i.e. none) water along the route once you leave the West Castle River lower down, so you should budget your water carefully and think about how much you might need. I highly recommend this trip for larch season – looking back on my photos from Jake Smith Peak I realize how many there are along the ridge between La Coulotte and Scarpe Mountain.
As you can hopefully tell by this report, it was a fantastic day in the hills that turned out even better than I’d hoped. Originally when planning this trip I’d been worried about the lowly stature of the peaks involved but I should have realized that it’s a very rare day that Waterton doesn’t serve up enough beauty to fully satisfy. As I close out the peaks in this little corner of paradise I can’t help but think that I will continue to find excuses other than summits to make the 3 hour drive from Calgary.
What a day! Originally I was planning a 6-7 hour fairly straightforward jaunt but I ended up with some serious route finding, difficult and exposed terrain and three summits instead of two. I was stymied by cliffs twice, managing to route find around them once and forced to backtrack the second time. Failure in the mountains is a good thing as long as you come back in good health, so I consider my failed descend of the south ridge of Dundy to be a good thing. You’re simply not trying hard enough if you succeed at everything you try IMHO.
I wasn’t in a hurry whatsoever as I started ascended scree / grass slopes on the east side of the SE ridge. Why should I be? I knew the hike would only take me ~3 hours and the weather was gorgeous as were my views. Waterton rarely disappoints in the views department, usually it’s the wind that puts a tiny damper in an otherwise sublime outdoor experience here.
I really enjoyed Mount Glendowan – even with the smoky conditions we had. It really is one of the best Waterton scrambles that I’ve done and I’ve done most of them. The fact that the winds were fairly light helped, but the scrambling on ascent combined with the easy scree on descent was icing on the cake.
I highly recommend this scramble for anyone wanting to dip their toes into a “Nugara Difficult” and looking for a colorful hike in Waterton Lakes National Park.
Mount McCarty was a strange mix of very pleasurable hiking in fields of wildflowers surrounded by impressive mountains and a bit of a thrash through heavy vegetation (soaking wet) and myriads of bugs including mosquitoes.
Would I recommend my route on Carbondale Hill? Yes and no. If you want to try a north approach I recommend trying the cutline route. Start where I did and follow the track I did a bit further to see if there’s a trail up the cutline. If there is, this could be a wonderful option.
Cherry Hill is not destined to be one of the greats. But it’s a thing with a high point – possibly even an official “summit” that’s not the one you hike to. And you can never have too many of those on your bucket list. Can you?
When the dust finally settled on our Saturday plans it was Wietse, Cornelius, Richard, Trevor and I leaving the Castle Mountain Ski resort at around 07:00 before the lively Huckleberry Festival could continue its rambunctious celebrations.
The last time I scrambled this circuit was over 10 years ago on June 14, 2008 with Wietse. I don’t generally repeat trips and despite not planning this particular trip for this particular day, on hindsight I’m perfectly OK with repeating it – it’s a beauty!
I was still hurting quite a bit from my first bike ride of the year on Deadman Pass Peak a few days earlier, but the only way to cure pain is to liberally layer more pain on top so I readily agreed that something with an even longer and much rougher bike approach was the obvious choice (!!).
Phil and I weren’t sure where “RA” Peak actually was! After returning from the summit of Jake Smith Peak, I was feeling a bit more energy than before the short scramble and we decided that since we were in the area, we might as well tag both the west and east “RA” peaks. From the col with Jake Smith Peak, Phil and I regained part of RA Peak’s south ridge before traversing easy SW slopes to the col on smatterings of sheep trails worn into the scree.
From the summit of Three Lakes Ridge we had a choice to make. Despite the gorgeous weather Phil and I were obviously enjoying, it was already past 14:00 hours and we were a long way from the parking lot. We could descend Three Lakes Ridge via west slopes before joining the track back up to Middle Kootenay Pass and decide from there whether or not Middle Kootenay Mountain was a “go”, or we could take advantage of the ridge we were already on and continue towards Jake Smith and Red Argillite peaks. Why was it even a choice?
After approaching the Middlepass Lakes and scrambling up Rainy Ridge it was time to traverse towards the creatively named, “Three Lakes Ridge” – the professional cartographers must have been on holidays when these peaks were monikered. Nugara mentions the traverse between Rainy and Three Lakes Ridge as doable but not highly recommended, especially in the direction we were going to be doing it. How difficult could it be right?
A day after ascending close to 1800 vertical meters and biking / hiking and scrambling almost 30km up and down Mount Coulthard and McLaren in the Crowsnest Pass area, I was back at it with Phil Richards. We were planning a very full day of biking, hiking and peakbagging in the South Rockies within the newly formed Castle Wildland Provincial Park, near the Castle Mountain Ski Resort and just outside the other newly formed park, Castle Provincial Park.
After a longish outing on Mount Head a few days previous with a couple of smelly guys (no offense guys), I decided it was time for a nice hike in Waterton Lakes National Park with my wife for a change. She not only looks (a lot) nicer than those other guys, but she smells nicer too. Again – no offense guys. In the fall of 2015 I hiked Lakeview Ridge solo and remember really liking the Horseshoe Basin area.
After staring wistfully to the east at the dry terrain around Whistler Mountain the week before while hiking and scrambling the snowy and long Lys Ridge with Phil Richards, I was back near Beaver Mines Lake with Wietse on Saturday, October 29th to try something else in the area. Dave McMurray (peaksandstreams.com) seems to be inspiring a lot of my trips lately (Racehorse, Lys Ridge) and this day would be no different.
As part of the “Whistler Loop”, Wietse and I first bagged two unofficial summits, both of which are higher than either of the two official summits they sit between! Table Top is located south of Table Mountain and the two Whistable Peaks are between Table Top and Whistler Mountain. Despite not having official names, we enjoyed the gorgeous views and sublime weather as we sat on top of each of them on our way towards the extremely under whelming apex of Whistler Mountain. After reading the controversy on the exact location of the summit, I’m still not 100% sure which it is, but since we bagged every high point on the ridge, I know we stood on top of Whistler at some point!
After leaving the summit of Table Top Peak, Wietse and I followed a delightful ridge towards the twin summits of Whistable Peaks. Dave McMurray named the more southerly of the twin peaks, “Eagle Peak” but Wietse and I politely decided to rename it due to a plethora of peaks already named after that majestic bird of prey. It took us a while to come up with “Whistable” but it seemed to fit the fact that the summits are pretty much the same height and located nicely between Table and Whistler Mountains.
After scrambling to the summit of West Castle Mountain, Phil Richards and I had a decision to make. Should we continue the long (long!) traverse to the south end of Lys Ridge, or turn back and call it a day? Obviously we decided to continue. Dave McMurray, of peaksandstreams.com, mentions a moderate scrambling section between West Castle and West Castle II in his trip report, so we were interested in how that would work out for us in the snowy conditions we were dealing with.
Sunday, October 23 2016 didn’t go quite as planned. Originally Phil Richards and I were planning on scrambling Centre Peak from the west. Both Caudron and Centre Peak are easily ascended from the west, but to get close to them requires driving 9km along a back country road that heads north from just east of the Crowsnest Pass Golf Course off of the Crowsnest Highway. Immediately on turning up this road, we started getting bad vibes. The road was easily navigable, but there were signs posted everywhere detailing that all the property was now privately owned by a corporation named “Riversdale Resources” and that all risks of driving the road were solely ours.
Summit Elevation (m): 2471Trip Date: September 19, 2016Elevation Gain (m): 1600Round Trip Time (hr): 8Total Trip Distance (km): 19Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 1/2 – you fall, you sprain something, i.e. your egoDifficulty 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: DownloadMap: Google Maps After getting over a serious lack of motivation and summiting Southfork Mountain, I decided to give myself an hour […]