Carbondale Hill

April 5, 2014

1693m

Castle Wilderness, AB

After ascending Prairie Bluff and then Mount Backus earlier in the day, Grant and I still had plenty of time and just enough energy for another ascent. I kinda wished to change area again and do Robertson and Tallon but we eventually decided to do the nearby Carbondale Hill. That worked nicely as well but for unimpressive objectives back-to-back I’d be more motivated if I could see different views. But in any case the South Rockies is a fairly long drive so speaking economically I should check off as many as I could.

Carbondale Hill standard hiking/snowshoeing ascent route

Carbondale Hill ascent route. GPX DL

For the ascent itself my reference was again, Bob Spirko‘s trip report. There’s nothing fancy about it as we’d snowshoe up a fire road. We were expecting it being packed down since it’s a fairly straightforward outing with decent views but we were wrong. We had to park 1 km earlier since the road was gated. The gate was one of the trickiest I’d ever seen because we had to scramble over it rather than walking around. They did do a good job preventing ATVs and snowmobiles going in… And then after walking 1 km on the road we came to the old fire road. There’s no track at all and we were on our own.

A gate prevented us from driving to the trail-head

A gate prevented us from driving to the trail-head

Strapping snowshoes on

Strapping snowshoes on

It’s already afternoon and the day was hot. I was expecting lots of post-holing on this road but that wasn’t the case. There was an old set of ski tracks and by walking directly on top, the snowpack was actually better than on Mount Backus. We did occasionally sink knee deep but in general it was much better than expected. The thing that made this trip tedious was actually the boredness. I forgot to bring my iPod for this ascent which was a mistake. Thankfully it’s overall not a long ascent so we were slowly getting there. Instead of following Bob Spirko’s route up the ridge we decided to keep following the road to avoid post-holing.

The road doesn't get any exciting than this...

The road doesn’t get any more exciting than this…

Eventually the road curved back to intersect the ridge crest again. Now we opted for ascending the ridge and the scenery fully opened up. A nasty storm came by but narrowly missed us and then we were treated by some nice views. The bigger peaks on continental divide never showed up but I did enjoy the cloud scenery. One can always expect nice views if there’s sunshine and blue sky. Up the ridge crest there was some nice cornices. The summit is also called Carbondale Lookout since there’s an official fire lookout on top but I prefer the name that’s labelled on the government map.

The road brought us back to the ridge crest

The road brought us back to the ridge crest

Looking up. Still a fair bit of elevation gain to go.

Looking up. Still a fair bit of elevation gain to go.

A nasty looking storm came by

A nasty looking storm came by

At the meantime, interesting cloud scenery looking towards the Continental Divide

At the meantime, interesting cloud scenery looking towards the Continental Divide

Mt. McCarty is the only one I could recognize though

Mt. McCarty is the only one I could recognize though

Cornices on the summit ridge

Cornices on the summit ridge

The storm missed us

The storm missed us

Grant snowshoeing up the summit ridge

Grant snowshoeing up the summit ridge

I like the colours.

I like the colours.

Looking up. We were almost there.

Looking up. We were almost there.

Looking back towards Table Mountain and Whistler Mountain

Looking back towards Table Mountain and Whistler Mountain

We just ascended Mt. Backus earlier in this day

We just ascended Mt. Backus earlier in this day

Livingstone Range looking north

Livingstone Range looking north

Hiking towards the summit

Hiking towards the summit

Looking into West Castle area. Southfork Mountain on left.

Looking into West Castle area. Southfork Mountain on left.

Nice view towards the prairie

Nice view towards the prairie

Me on the summit

Me on the summit

The lookout on the summit

The lookout on the summit

The descent was much faster but still boring, and our round trip time was about 3 hours. Overall this is another nice off-season objective. I’d recommend either skiing or snowshoeing it. Skiing if you don’t mind carrying skis for 1 km one-way. The skiing down that fire road would be as fast and furious as one can expect.

Going down...

Going down…

After the trip we drove back to Calgary and Grant’s family offered me a nice dinner. (A big thank to them!) I checked the weather forecast again. It looked nice in the front ranges again but I was short on motivation so drove home afterwards. Overall this was a nice 3-peak day in the Castle and it reminds me greatly that I need to do more peaks in the South Rockies..

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