Drywood Mountain
Castle Wilderness, Alberta
June 23, 2007

Two weeks ago a seasonally closed gate prevented us from doing Drywood Mountain using the south slopes. However, on a short exploratory trip we got the idea of attempting a north ascent. Three ridges – the first leading to the second, the second leading to the third, and the third one to the summit – looked promising except for the final summit push. Possibly we could be stopped just before the summit but it was worth trying.

We parked at the Drywood Creek gate and walked up the road 1.8 km to the drainage at GR127621. Bushwhacking to the base of the first ridge was out of the question because of the dense vegetation so we hiked up the creek and hoped we wouldn't get stuck in a canyon.

The banks of the creek were well vegetated until we reached the base of the ridge. After emerging from under the tree canopy we started ascending a steep slope. After some bushwhacking we emerged into the sunshine. Sticking to the ridge, we continued climbing only to encounter a thicket. The bushwhacking here was miserable but brief. Eventually we broke free of the trees and the rest of the way up to the second ridge was uneventful. Although steep, the ground was mostly solid. In fact, we encountered little in the way of loose scree on the entire trip.

After reaching the second ridge we headed for the third ridge. On our right was an impressive bowl. Above was a scree slope leading to the third ridge. We noticed some undulating black rock on the ridge and only later realized that this was where the summit was. In retrospect, it might be feasible or even desirable to angle directly to the black rock and scramble up to the summit, but instead we made our way to the third ridge. We enjoyed this ridge because of the beautiful colours and interesting rock formations.

On the ridge we spotted the summit, a high black prominence marked with a pole. Reaching the summit was straightforward, only a moderate bit of scrambling.

On planning this trip I had considered descending via the basin south of the col between the east and west peaks of the mountain at GR125595. I had my doubts but I thought I should check it out. Leaving Dinah on the summit, but keeping in touch with radios, I hiked down to the col to view the basin, losing 250 m in the process. As I expected, the basin appeared densely forested and if it were anything like I had already experienced elsewhere on Drywood Mountain, I wouldn't want to do 100 m of bushwhacking let alone a kilometre or two. I returned to the summit, the jaunt to and from the col taking an hour.

We returned the same way except that we hiked along the length of the third ridge before reaching the second ridge.

Although I was disappointed that the basin didn't appear to be a feasible descent route, I was glad to have summited. Perhaps I'll check that basin one day, but I'll tackle it from the valley up, not from the col down!

KML Track

MOVIE (posted on YouTube)


Approximate route


Hiking up the road, false summit on the left.


Starting up the drainage


Unusual rock pattern in the creek


The ascent starts around the corner (mouse over).


On the open slopes, false summit on the left


Well above the creek


Pincher Ridge sets the background as we ascend the first ridge.


On the second ridge


Heading to the third ridge, summit is one of the black bumps on the right


Concentric rings appeared in the rock everywhere on the second ridge


Making our way to a minor rock band


Looking down second ridge


Climbing up the rock band


Almost at the third ridge. Victoria Peak on the right.


The summit comes into view


Looking back as we make our way to the summit


Interesting rock piles along the ridge


Another view back along the ridge


The summit


Scrambling up to the summit


Dinah starts up the summit


Almost at the top


I head to the col; the west peak fills the view ahead.


Closer look at the west peak


Partway down I look back at the summit.


The basin I considered descending is densely forested (click for a larger image)


Descending from the summit


On the way back we stuck to the ridge for a last look at the summit


Sky pilot


82/G8 Beaver Mines

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