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.GPS Track Download: Download GPX FileTechnical Rating: SC5; YDS (Hiking)Map: Google Maps After getting over a serious lack of motivation and summiting Southfork Mountain, I decided to give myself […]
I’ve been interested in Southfork Mountain and the traverse to (or from) Barnaby Ridge for a while now since reading multiple trip reports on it over the years. It seemed to be the type of trip that is more effort than you expect – which describes a lot of the Castle Wilderness Area peaks and trips that I’ve done over the years. I imagined the views must be pretty sweet, as a previous trip in the area with Wietse up Gravenstafel Ridge and Mount Haig was very scenic.
The weather forecast for the Alberta Rockies wasn’t looking great for the 2nd weekend in September 2016. Big surprise. Not! I had a choice to make, and it was harder than it should have been. Stay home and sleep in or drive 3+ hours to Waterton Lakes National Park where the forecast was quite positive. Guess which movie I chose to watch with Kaycie on Friday evening? The Revenant. What else was I supposed to watch before solo hiking in one of the most dense bear concentrated parks in the Rockies?! When I fell asleep I still wasn’t sure what I’d be doing Saturday morning, but set my alarm for 05:00 just in case I got some inspiration while sleeping.
After easily hiking to the top of Mount Baldy near Beauvais Lake in the Castle Wilderness, we turned our attention towards Mount Albert – it’s slightly higher neighbor to the southeast. We had lots of great views in between short stints through “dwarf forest” as we followed orange trail markers that were sometimes harder to spot than you’d think based on the fact that they’re orange. 😉
After scrambling Prairie Bluff and hiking Mount Backus the day before, the kids and I woke up on Sunday in the mood for a nice hike but not much else. Naturally we wanted a summit but we didn’t want to work too hard for it. 😉 As it turns out, we got TWO summits for the effort of HALF a summit. This way of bagging peaks is so much easier than doing hard work like Forbes a few weeks ago. Of course I partially jest, but it is fun to do nice easy hiking and peak bagging once in a while and doing it with my kids provides me with as much satisfaction as the big remote summits do. Maybe even a tiny bit more? It helps that they let me take millions of flower pics too.
After scrambling Prairie Bluff in the morning, we found ourselves with plenty of time for a short objective on our way to setting up camp for the night at the Beaver Mines Recreation Area in the Castle Wilderness. I had a trip report on Mount Backus from Bob Spirko who snowshoed it in March of 2014. Backus was located along the highway leading to Beaver Mines, so it made perfect sense to try it. I was a bit nervous about the level of bushwhacking required but it was short enough that I foolishly decided it couldn’t be that bad. 🙂
After squandering a perfectly good weekend, followed by a disappointing May long weekend, I was more than ready for some time away from the rat race in Calgary by the time the last weekend of May rolled around. Both my kids were also ready for a break and with Hanneke home studying and writing assignments, we decided that a two day trip to the Castle / Crown area was just the ticket for us. The original plan – given a sunny forecast – was to scramble Southfork and possibly Barnaby Ridge on Saturday, followed by something short and easy on Sunday.
After a long day with Phil Richards on a three peak traverse of Vimy Peak, Arras Peak (Vimy Ridge) and GR939323, I wanted an easy, short objective to wind down my two weeks off. Wietse was interested in joining me for the day and eventually we settled on Ruby Ridge. We figured it would take us around 6 hours, which gave us plenty of time to get back to Calgary on time.
After a spectacular trip to the White Goat Wilderness with Eric over the weekend, I spent a few rainy, cold days back in Calgary recovering. Unfortunately (for me) the latest weather system dumped a pile of fresh snow on most of the Rockies, once again dashing any hopes of a large ascent for my second week off. Even my dream of going into the Mount Assiniboine area to bag peaks and photograph larches was literally dumped on. Ah well. The Rockies are a big place and one place didn’t seem to be affected by the latest storms, so I headed back there! Waterton Lakes National Park was back on the menu so-to-speak.
Looking at my choices for peak(s) to do on my second full day in Waterton National Park I thought I was fairly limited, thanks to the closing of the Red Rock Parkway for construction. I settled on Mount Rowe, hoping that it would have similar snow conditions to what I had on Sofa Mountain the day before. Of course I rationalized that even though it was further west, it wasn’t that much further right?! Joining me as we cruised along the Akamina Parkway under a gorgeous morning sunrise was Phil Richards – a recent friend who’d done another long trip with me earlier this year on Rose and Threepoint.
After scrambling Drywood Mountain I only had 1 Nugara scramble left in the Castle Wilderness, namely Mount Roche, or Spread Eagle Mountain. I couldn’t find any other trip reports of anyone taking Andrew’s ascent route but I thought it sounded fun and would be worth a try. His dire warnings about not being able to down climb it were a bit ominous though. 😉
After a night of t-storms and rain I decided to sleep in and hang around camp for a while before attempting Drywood Mountain. I started up the road on my bike at around 10:30, hoping the rock would be dry in the ascent gully. At around 11:00 I was near the place indicated by Nugara, the only problem being the multitude of gullies! Actually there are really only two candidates and after almost 30 minutes of fussing around I decided to take the one closest to the end of the road and the nearest to the start of the Bovine Lake trail. This was a good choice on hindsight.