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Drywood Mountain
Castle Wilderness, Alberta
June 23, 2007

Two weeks ago a seasonally closed gate prevented Dinah and I from ascending the south slopes of Drywood Mountain. However, on a short exploratory trip we got the idea of attempting a north slope 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 127621. 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 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 Drywood's 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 125595. I had my doubts but I thought I should check it out. Leaving Dinah on the summit, 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 descended 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

Looking up our ascent slope

Dinah climbs the steep slope

On the open slopes, false summit on the left

Well above the creek

Pincher Ridge sets the background as we hiked up the first ridge

On the second ridge

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

Concentric rings appeared in the rock everywhere on the second ridge

Looking down second ridge

Making our way to a minor rock band

Climbing up the rock band

Almost at the third ridge. Victoria Peak in the background 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

Dinah appears below the summit

Scrambling up to the summit

Dinah starts up

Almost at the top

On top of Drywood Mountain

I headed to the col; the west peak of Drywood fills the view ahead

Closer look at the west peak

Partway down the ridge I looked 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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