Monday, September 21, 2009

Attempt of Castle

I'll start off with a rather embarrassing story of what happens when you get two Holmes brothers together. By ourselves, we are often late. But the two of us leaving for the long weekend on Friday afternoon, for activities Tim has barely done before, was, well....put it this way, I was supposed to be home at 5:30 so that a 6pm departure would put us at Mt Athabasca by 9pm (for a 4am start to Saturday). We ended up leaving at 10pm! and so scaled back our plan to hit Brewer's Buttress, a 5.6 rock climb on Castle Mountain (the "Castle Junction" Castle Mountain, not the ski resort near Crowsnest Pass). So we still got to the carpark at midnight, briefly wondered whether the car stinking of Safeway roast chicken would attract bears, and rose for an "alpine start" at 8am. By the time we changed out packs from being equipped for glacier travel to rock climbing, we left the car at 11am.

Castle Mountain is really, really big. It has two obvious tiers, with our rock climb starting on the second tier. I figured the approach similar to Yamnuska, a 45 min to 1 hour tough switch-backing hike to the base of the cliffs. Castle, however, took four hours to hike to the bottom, then climb 4th class (i.e. just easy enough to not use a rope) rock to the large ledge at the top of the first tier. Wow. We stopped for lunch at the hut and pondered an attempt on a 8 pitch rock climb with 5 hours of daylight and a rappel descent back to the hut, followed by a descent of hike and climb we'd just taken four hours to do in daylight. Being stubborn and wanting to get at least SOME rock climbing done, we headed off to try to exceed all reasonable expectations of climbing speed.

The dunny for the hut has a killer view!

Hiking to and from the base of the climb traversed some pretty steep scree slopes. In the following pics, Tim and I tried to show how wild it was, and the massive scale of the place in general.

I'm the tiny black dot in the very centre of the photo

The ledge we climbed to is on the upper-right of the photo.

After two pitchs at the expectable pace of 1 hour per pitch, we decided to call it. We rapped back to the ledge and got to downclimb to the base of the cliffs in twilight, getting back to the car at 11pm. So tired!

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