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Castle Mountain (2766 m)

Castle Mountain is the huge mountain of ramparts sprawling out on the side of the highway at the Highway 93 junction. It' s impressive vertical walls are much gentler on the backside. Ok, I'll be honest - pretty much flat, and it makes for an easy yet long trip. The elevation gain is about 1400 meters, yet the trail makes a huge loop around the backside - very circuitous. See Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies for more details. I did it in September of 2001 with my Dad, his buddy Lou and his friend Mindy.

This is the view of Castle Mountain from the Trans-Canada Highway. Most all people recognize this mountain, and it becomes obvious why Sir James Hector named it this back in the mid 1800's. After the second world war, it was named Mount Eisenhower in commemoration of that American General, however this created a stir, and it was renamed to Castle. Eisenhower Tower still retains some of this. You start going up the valley on a well established trail until you reach a nice meadow before a small lake below the backside of Eisenhower Tower.

Once you reach the meadows, continue soon to lake. Contour around this lake, and up the treed headwall at the far end. If you look towards Castle Mountain, near the bottom of the scree on the far side of the lake is this huge boulder that somehow fits into the scree. It is standing up with a tree sticking out of it. It is one of the coolest things I have ever seen! But enough about that. Once yu get off the headwall you walk for a very short while to Rockbound Lake. If your objective is to climb Castle Mountain and not sit here all day, contour around the right shore, and find a trail heading up without switchbacks until a very short rock band which you can easily find your way around. Keep going and contour left around a hump to a plateau between the massive upper terrace and Rockbound Lake. At the end of this neat terrace with unusually bumpy grass, find your way with cairns to the top of main plateau, and then skirt your way to the summit, which is the last point before the separated Eisenhower Tower.

On the summit, you can look back at the route taken. This picture display it perfectly. Since it was my Dad's first time up since the notorious gully at the end of Rockbound Lake trail was used, we didn't really know which way we should get to the summit. We surmounted that hump and then travelled across the main plateau to get there. On the way back however, I found a cairn at a point above the middle terrace on the edge of the cliff. I ventured down there, and told them that it was easy. Lou decided to follow me, but Dad knew all too well that I'd probably end up no where, so he carried on the route we ascended with Mindy. Sure enough, I got to the middle plateau, traversed the middle plateau, and got to the bottom of the hump with Lou 30 minutes before Dad and Mindy arrived.

At the summit you are rewarded with the view of the Bow Valley and most all of the peaks bordering it. To the north, just over my dad's head and to the left is the largest mountain on the horizon: Mount Temple. It was a great day, and all we met on the way up past Rockbound Lake was one party, who ended up disappearing somewhere! And it was hard to lose sight of things on that plateau too!

This is what Eisenhower Tower looked like from the summit of Castle Mountain. We couldn't see any climbers, but with our eyes (you probably can't see it in the photo) you could see the cairn. All in all, Castle Mountain was very easy technically, but it's kind of weird when you end up doing a full loop to attain the summit. It makes for quite a long trip. back to scrambles page