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Castle Towers - Storming the fortress
Timestamp Free: 2019.12.13 - 19:53:42
Ranges: North America Ranges / Pacific Cordillera Range / Coast Mountains / Pacific Ranges / Garibaldi Ranges
  (1 days)     Elevation Gain: 1826m
Participants: Pierre Signore
Difficulty: 3: Good trail; easy glacier; ramble through meadows and loose rock; up snow field along West ridge. Down climb scary notch from West summit to gain main summit block. Most parties stop on West summit.
A day trip to the summit of Castle Towers. The mountain was approached from Cheakamus Lake by Helm Creek Trail and Helm Glacier. The West Ridge route was scrambled to the summit between storms.
July 22, 2000

It was one of these early mornings where I wake up in the city and feel like being in the mountains. Castle Towers had been brought back to my mind a few days earlier. This sounded like the place to be. The weather forecast called for thunderstorms but I could not care less. I quickly packed and headed for Cheakamus Lake.

I left my car at the Cheakamus Lake parking lot (alt. 2,800 ft) at 9:15 am and started hiking on the wide trail under cloudy skies. A sign at the turn off for the bridge over the Cheakamus River read 14.5 km to Helm Campground. I was suddenly reminded of the long approach required to reach the base of the mountain. It was time to shift gear and turn on the turbo. This was going to be a long day.

I hurried along the good trail through old growth forest and reached the campground shortly after 11 am (alt. 5,000 ft). The clouds over the meadows were getting darker but a light breeze was perfect to keep cool. I left the trail at 11:20 am to cross the meadows, country of the cute marmots, between Gentian Ridge and Cinder Cone. The last tree patch provided a welcomed shelter to let a shower go by and to eat some food.

Consolidated snow allowed me to easily cross the terminal moraine to gain Helm Glacier. Mushy sun cusps and muggy weather made for slower travel on the icefield. It was a relief to reach windy Gentian Ridge (alt. 6,900 ft) at 1 pm. Castle Towers was rising in front of me. A curtain of rain was sweeping the mountain. This did not bode well. The storm seemed to be moving away so I decided to carry on and dropped down to Gentian Pass (alt. 6,000 ft) that I reached 20 minutes later.

Slow melting of the snowpack had left large stretches of neve snow on Polemonium Ridge. This made for an easy ascent of the hill. As I...

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