North Castle* may be a mediocre peak on Windsor Ridge but it’s well-positioned to view outstanding scenery. To reach it, the west ridge appears to be the best route for a spring ascent.
To get there we needed to drive down the South Castle River access road. I have taken my car as far as the Whistler Lookout trailhead but beyond that, the road deteriorates. The logical start is about four kilometres past the Whistler Lookout trailhead, after the second creek crossing (GR970648).
That four-kilometre section of road could be hiked or biked, but Sonny Bou was able drive the distance in his SUV. After parking at the second creek, we started up the wooded slope.
There was little undergrowth and deadfall so we made good time. Along the way I spotted a red fox that watched me for a time before disappearing into the trees.
We left the trees and starting up a grassy slope. Castle Peak soon appeared and throughout our trip, our eyes were drawn to this spectacular pair of rock points. But the colours of Mount Gladstone and other peaks also vied for our attention.
The crest above the grassy slopes led to a treed, snow-covered ridge. For the next kilometre we hiked mostly on good snow to the summit ridge. The south end of this ridge was bare of trees and we treated ourselves to the views before continuing to the treed summit.
After reaching the summit we hiked north along the ridge to a prominence next to Mount Gladstone. It was mostly a hike to the summit of North Castle but now we found ourselves downclimbing a couple of cliff bands to reach a minor point on the north end of the summit ridge. At this point one may be tempted to go on to bag Mount Gladstone, but Dinah and I had already done it, and Sonny was having trouble with blisters. We turned around and headed back the same way.
We all enjoyed this trip. The scenery changed often and we never went far before someone — or all of us! — pulled out a camera!
* Bivouac.com considers the name incorrect.
The ascent ridge can be be seen from the creek.
Hiking up the wooded slope
After leaving the trees, we reach a grassy slope. Castle Peak comes into view.
Looking down the valley we drove up.
After topping out on the grassy slope, we'll follow the snow-covered ridge. (Summit is hidden.)
For the most part, we hike on firm snow. Behind is the grassy slope we came up.
Still lots of snow in some places!
We did a bit of scrambling to get up these rocks.
West Castle on the left
We hike a long stretch of snow on the broad ridge.
The snow held firm except at the edges.
We finally reach the bare south shoulder which leads left to the summit.
South end of Lys Ridge on the left (mouse over)
Castle Peak: mouse over four places for close-ups.
Following the snow-covered ridge to the summit.
Mount Gladstone from the summit ridge
The sharp point is the summit of Victoria Ridge.
Dinah stops by a cornice on the summit ridge to look at Prairie Bluff.
Sonny and I pause on the cornice (mouse over).
We head for the point left of centre. Mount Gladstone lies behind it.
Along the way we scramble down a short cliff band.
Sonny finds the snow easier to descend here.
This colorful col connects an unnamed peak (left) to Mount Gladstone.
Sonny heads to the point.
I start down the last downclimb before the point while Dinah hangs back.
Sonny sets up his camera as I reach the point.
Sonny and I head back from the point (left) that we reached.
Sonny reaches for a rock as we scramble back up.
Victoria Peak (mouse over for a close-up)
Jutland Mountain (mouse over)
Last look at Castle Peak from the grassy slope (mouse over)
82/G8 Beaver Mines
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