Table Mountain
Castle Wilderness, Alberta
April 25, 2005

The peaks of Castle Wilderness take on rich hues and Table Mountain is no exception. To reach the trailhead, drive west on HWY 774 from Pincher Creek to Beaver Mines Campground. The map at the trailhead and a good trail starts you up Table Mountain, but once you leave the trail you're on your own. Trails abound but not all may take you where you wish to go. Often they begin or end abruptly.

We hiked up a good trail in thick aspen. At the first drainage we took a left turn at the first fork which brought us out onto a semi-open plateau. We went straight up, but found on the return it would have been easier to head to the left side of the gully where there is a trail.

At the base of the mountain, water flowed in the gully, but higher up it disappeared underground, allowing us to easily climb up the gully. There were intermittent trails on either side, but the creek bed offered solid footing. Eventually we left the gully and ascended the ridge on the right. Overhead a cliff band filled our view so we headed for it.

We continued until we reached the base of the cliff band. We hiked along the left side of the cliff base. Near the end of the cliff, we found a breach that we could scramble up onto the west end of the mountain. Later we realized we could have saved time by circumventing the cliffs on the right, but by reaching the west end we bypassed extensive scree and took in some extra scenery. From the west end, it was a stroll to the summit except for an unavoidable copse that sheltered a few feet of snow. Fortunately, the snow was consolidated and we didn't sink much.

From the summit we took in views of Victoria Peak, Mount Gladstone, and the expanse of prairie to the east. Castle North was especially striking, rising like a tower.

From the summit, we returned to the low point in the middle section of the mountain. We angled down the scree for quite a way before stumbling on a good trail with pink flagging. (Perhaps this trail is the best way to reach the middle section) We followed it down until until we emerged on a ridge top where the trail disappeared. From there, we had to traverse rugged slopes to get back to the first drainage.

KML Track

MOVIE (posted on YouTube)


Table Mountain seen from the highway. Summit is left.


Table Mountain from near the approach. The trail heads right and then up a gully between two buttresses. The summit is far left. The lower west end is in the foreground. The bit of snow you see near the top of the west end is where we scrambled up.


Trailhead sign


After leaving the trail, we set off across a gentle slope


The first drainage: on our ascent, we ended up on the orange scree and gray rock on the left. It would have been better to hike closer to the gully. Note the orange cliff band in the background between the two buttresses which marks the west end.


There's plenty of scree as we ascend. On the return we found a trail closer to the gully that
ends on the rib to the right of the gully.


We made our way to the gully between the buttresses


Some scrambling here


The gully leads to a cliff band


Below the cliff band: I ascended the chimney on the right which wasn't to Dinah's liking, so instead we hiked left along the base of the cliff band until we came to a breach we could easily scramble up.


Although I didn't go all the way up the chimney it appeared to be a shortcut to the top


Looking for an easier way up


We skirted the cliff band until we found an easier spot to ascend


On the west end of the mountain looking towards the summit


Impressive drop!


Heading to the summit


Coming out of the snow


Almost at the summit, looking back at the ridge we traversed


The summit


No summit cairn, just this survey marker


Mount Gladstone


Castle Peak


Mountain sheep relaxing on Table Mountain


Heading back to the west summit


Instead of returning via the cliff band, we came down a scree slope east of the cliff band

Making our way back to the ascent gully


82 G/8 Beaver Mines (ascent route)

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