April 5, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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..