Castle Towers - July 2007
I was back in BC, this time to pack up our apartment and move to Ontario. I snuck in two last days in the alpine on July 16-17, 2007 to visit Castle Towers in Garibaldi Park.
photo: The Black Tusk as seen from near the Helm Creek campground.
peak summited: Helm 2146 m
reference: Scrambles in Southwest British Columbia. Matt Gunn. Cairn Publishing. 2005.
On the first day I hiked up the trail along Helm Creek to the campground, and up onto Gentian Ridge. From there, it's a quick scramble to the summit of Helm Peak. The scramble along the ridge is nice, but the final few metres require a fourth class moves on loose rock. From there, the approach continues eastward towards Castle Towers. The scrambling (mostly hiking) along Gentian Ridge is pleasant with great views the whole way. The descent to Gentian Pass isn't as fun (mostly because it's disheartening to lose so much elevation).
photo: This is again the Black Tusk and the Helm Creek meadows as seen from the approach to Gentian Ridge.
The bivy in the pass is good, although the views are limited to the top of Garibaldi and some of the Spearhead Range, as Gentian Ridge and Palemonium Ridge block out much of the skyline from the pass. There are a couple of good flat sites for sleeping, as well as plenty of meltwater (at least there was at this time of year).
photo: The ridge to Helm Peak is pleasant until the last few metres just below the summit which are loose and steeper.
On the second day I headed up Palemonium Ridge, across the col, and onto Castle Towers. I ended up turning around about 150 m below the summit, when heavy rain started falling and the lichen on the talus got pretty slippery.
photo: Gentian ridge heads from Helm Peak towards Gentian Pass, below Castle Towers. Walking along the ridge crest is enjoyable and provides nice views along its entire length. These include the Tantalus Range, Mount Garibaldi, the Spearhead region, and Mount Wedge.
The return trip was quick and I was back at the car by 3:00 pm. Of course it was beautiful and sunny on the way out. Given the extra time I could have waited a couple of hours for the rain to stop and continued upwards. This is the kind of trip that's worth repeating so I hope to be back to properly complete the route (or perhaps the north face snow route).
photo: Castle Towers appear immense as they come into sight on Gentian Ridge. Gentian Pass is below and to the right. The scramble up Palemonium Ridge, across the col, and onto the West Ridge of Castle Towers is nice. There is low exposure and the scrambling is easy but the terrain is varied and route-finding requires just enough looking around to keep it interesting.
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