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Mr H and “How I learned to stop worrying and love the Burrito” ”

Castle Peak aka “Turret” (8306’, p3226’ )

East Ridge via Frosty Mt

July-tober 5-7, 2012 (10/5-7/2012)

Milda Tuatvydas, David Salinger and Franklin Bradshaw

Weather: Clear skies, brisk cold wind, below freezing night, changed to warm sun, warm eve



A little spot of heaven just south of the border


Rather long winded, so for those that get bored easy there’s a short version and you can browse the pictures.  The link to the slideshow has larger versions.


Short version:

Went up Frosty Mt trail to ridge, down scree past a lake and traversed across the border then up boulders and slabs to a ridge.  From its high point down an at times cl3 ridge to a great heather and larch surrounded camp north of Castle Peaks north face.  Freezing evening with increasing winds.  Clear morning and sun as we dropped east.  The scramble gulley route did not look in so we dropped to c5600’ to find a gulley mentioned in “Red Fred” for the east ridge.  I went up a d gulley and then a steep heather ridge to the top of a nasty gulley that Dave and Milda ascended and we all swore we’d not even think of returning via it.  Scramble up the south side of the east ridge to the summit, to lounge and enjoy the clear blue sky day and views from the eastern Pasayten, Inspiration Traverse, Pickets and all the way to the Coast range.

Back down and descent via the col starting at c7400, rock herd ice/snowfield and back at camp already in the shade.  The wind had died and it was feeling warmer –this would be a trend.  Much camp relaxing and Dave and Milda checked out the rock and routes for a future roped ascent (or two?).

The eve brought warmer air and lack of wind. We set off at a leisure pace after 8am reversing our route with a visit to the hikers summit (false) of Frosty.  Dave arrived to an empty summit.  That didn’t last long.  It seemed like a constant slow stream of people summiting.  After a half hour we dodged the uphill crowds,, a few stops here and there. Camp robbers mobbing us at Frosty Camp. A nice vista break overlooking Lightning Lake before we made the final descent in the ever warming day to packed  Lightning Lake parking lot. 


Much more to it, but that’s the basics…  You can browse the pictures or grab a drink and munchies and read on.  -fwb


The Long version

Long in prep, more long in waiting.  Castle Peak is about 1.2 miles south of the Canadian border and east of Ross Lake (and east of the Hozomeens).  It must be up north with a Latitude of 48.98 and change.  As far as lists Castle is a member of the T100 x 400.  Looking at an old map it is called Turret 8340. On Castle Creek.  Seemingly seldom climbed or scrambled due to the sparse information and beta.  There is great climbing on the north face and a few scramble routes have more recently been written about and posted on line (in the past ten years).  This type of peak interests me due to not having set what will happen.  Will we even be able to get up.  Maybe we are “in season” or “out”.  Also the prospect of seeing the rock for later climbing potential.   The two main routes we’ve read about are from Lightning Creek (Ross Lake), up a trail with years of windfall and dis-repair, then up the west flank.  The other is from the Manning Provincial Park Monument 78 trail, that has areas in dis-repair and swampy, then at the border nasty brushwhack to the Crow Creek basin. Those that have done this approach have then gained the east ridge via a snow remnant and “steep frozen mud” to the ridge.  Followed by a scramble, boulder navigation along the south slope of the east ridge.  Most the reports sounded like it was a “love of the Cascades” trip. 


Matt had researched several years ago and liked the route Martin and Silas took via Frosty Mt trail, then a ridge to camp north of Castle’s north face.  Well maintained trail, no brush, ancient larch (2000+ years old) and did I mention no brushwhacking?  Would it be a real scramble summit attempt without a little brushwhacking?  The views of a ridge hike and timing to do during the fall for an opportunity for yellow larch gave me great incentive for this route.  It was just too bad Matt couldn’t join us.  I know he’d love the route.  I talked and emailed with 5 people that had done a scramble of the peak.  That sounds like a lot of people, but it seems all those recent to attain its heights by the scramble routes have been from the same general group of peakbaggers.  On Cascade Climbers there are a few reports with some promising photo images.  So, not unknown, but this one did not look to be a cake walk as so many of the T100 peaks had been.  Maybe that  and its semi-secluded location have kept many a peakbagger at bay.


We had a group of six primed and ready.  Carla and Randy would join the entire Bulger Big Boy list finishers of 2011.  This was going to be fun if nothing else.  Larch prime color season is typically second week of October.  Last week, Carla and I did a Grand West Pasayten High Traverse just east of Castle and the larch looked to be past their prime of intense color.  Would we get yellow needles or bare branches and a yellow carpet?  One day before the trip it was iffy if I could get a day off for a three day weekend.  I’d give it a two day push if I had to, but would not be the same fun.  Then others dropped off for other interests.  By late Thursday eve, there three of us left for the odyssey to the Castle. Bummer in a way, but we’d been looking forward to this trip and the fabled ancient golden larches.  It was now or we were sure the long un-seasonal dry spell would be over and our window for this trip closed.  We have been spoiled this year with easy planning due to no significant weather change and a lack of typical precip.  Rather than not getting rained on, we were being more away of lightning –more than the joys of tingling hair and vibrating ax/poles. The high chances of ignition of a wildfire.  The other concern was of potable water.  Many creeks and tarn in previous trips have been bone dry.  Did you read of our trip last week planning on filling with water at the Lost River to find it waterless and dry?


Something was bad, really bad

We figured we needed about 8+ hours to get in to camp.  If we couldn’t make it we would find options.  We left Seattle after 6am, dark, but not that early considering the distance we needed to drive.  Through the Sumas border crossing with minimal of a wait.  East on the TransCanada.  Being my first time riding with Dave and Milda, I was being polite as a smell like no other started filing the car.  It became more intense and un-deniable.  OMG, it was bad, really bad.  Did someone die?  Gees…, and no one said anything… then we all broke, and as we rolled down the windows it became more intense.  Quick! Back up with the windows…  In a field ahead a tractor was towing a trailer that was spewing a dark substance high in the air and covering the field.  A job I’m glad I don’t have.  And sorry, no pictures.


At the town of Hope we stopped to get coins for the park parking meter, then east on Highway 3.  Up a deep beautiful valley complete with rivers, the impressive “Hope Slide” and Canada’s finest and their radar trap (don’t speed, it’s 100kph –got it ; -).  Into Manning Provincial park, past the “lodge” and a right toward Lightning Lake.  Stay left to the lake and not to the Gibson Ski Resort or camp grounds.   After some guess work and research we parked at the east end of Lightning Lake along with a couple other cars.  From here we could see the blue handrails of a walking bridge.  It was 11:00 and this is supposed to be the most popular trail in the area.  We’d find out how lucky we were it was Friday and a very cold sunny day.  Oh, so cold... the drive up the car thermometer was stuck at 36F.  I figured it was broken, til it changed –whew! I was hoping it wasn’t that cold… well 37F did have me feeling much warmer.


Have you seen a 2000 year old larch

Our packs seemed rather large and heavy.  Last weekend was the last for our summer gear.  Now extra down coat, 15F sleeping bag, long johns, heavier outer gloves, more fuel, steel crampons, ax…  Boy was I ever spoiled the last few months!  We were heading along the south of Lightning Lake after 11:00a (yeah, a real late start –go figure), easy trail to follow.



Looking back west above Lightning Lake.  Visible is Flash (closer) and Strike Lake


It cuts around and immediately starts an 8-9% switch backed pitch along and up from the SE shore of the lake though woods with occasional views of the lake and peaks to the west.  C5870 (2.7m, 1h or something like that) the pitch mellows and starts heading more south.  4.3 miles in (c6252, 1h50m) we arrive for another break at Frosty Camp.  Outhouse, food cache, shelter and a dry little ditch that maybe could have water if it had rained in the past 2-3 months. 



Frosty Camp cabin


We were making good progress while moving, and made up for it with occasional breaks to enjoy the scenery and beauty of the area.  Out of camp we entered the high alpine “meadow” and larch area (4.9m, c6690’, 2h15m).  Beautiful open heather and larch in their golden prime.  Some did look a little past, but backlit and on such a beautiful (cold) day they looked stunning.  Another 25 minutes and a well-trod trail led west and slightly down into a meadow basin with fresh water running (5.9m, c7110).  This would be (proved a few days later) a great lunch spot.  Views of larch and the long talus and cliffed ridge running from 0.3m east of the false summit all the way past the main summit far west. 


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The Larch Meadows


We’d walked up the trail with a solo hiker (Bruce).  Here we left him as we headed further on the Frosty trail.  The trail heads up again into talus.  So much for the class 0 cake-walk.  Now less dust and more rocks.  Gaining the ridge there was a post marker where the trail from Windy Joe peak met (c7620, 6.2m, 2:40p). 


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Looking SE from the ridge toward Mt Winthrop                                                                             Dave and Milda getting first view of Castle Peak


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Extreme caution sign leading to the false summit                                                                          Route from above the lake to Castle camp


If time allowed could be a nice return leg.  We had our first view of Castle Peak and the ridge we needed to cross to get to our hopeful camp. We followed the trail on the talus ridge SW. At a dip (c7714’, 6.4m, 2:52p) we left the trail, dropping SSW on scree and talus to a ledge on the buttress (c7170, 6.8m, 3:23p) above a lake.  Now things started getting trickier.  How to get off the bluff and to the lake?  A little scouting and descent proved not a problem –if you don’t mind scree skiing and alpine tree dodging. 


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Lake basin south of Frosty                                                                                                 

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The lake was very pretty and would make a great camp (c6915, 6.9m, 3:55p).  Past the lake the lower basins were beautiful.  Green heather and alpine trees, reds of blueberry leaves and all dominated by the golden glow from the abundant larch.  It wasn’t one area that was beautiful, it was everywhere you turned your head.  Three of us cameras at ready slowed pace stricken to a crawl by shutter delay.  Would the pictures come out to show the feel and ambiance?  I hope so.  To our right (north) the basin extended to the steep talus and cliff looking south walls of Frosty.  A hook before to the west and up to a saddle could be an ascent route to the west peaks of Frosty.  Again, I hope you like talus and scree.


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Leaving the lake heading south to the ridge north of Castle


Can we even get to camp

We had no idea of water availability at our hopeful camp.  After the past couple weeks of finding streams, tarns and even rivers dry we decided to haul all our water to play it safe.  Packs burdened with 5 liters plus of water felt heavy.  Watered up we assessed our progress and trip goals.  If a failure we’d fall back to here for a camp.  We hoped another couple hours would land us at the Promised Land (a “beautiful” camp at the north face of Castle Peak.  Our big issue proved to be lack of progress due to a several attack of chronic shutter delay.


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Two views from the ridge just south of the boundary of the route from Frosty


The route left the lush high alpine basin to traverse heather, boulder and larch southward.  It was a tad warmer due to being sheltered from the wind, but still cold.  Good thing somewhere I dropped my glove.  No prob, I always have a spare.  We never noticed any boundary clearing area as we contoured left and up, like three rats in a giant boulder maze. 


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The boulder and talus leading up to the dividing ridge (Princess Ridge?)                  Dave and Milda slabbing it


Dave and Milda tried a little more east to a broad ridge, while I tried to catch up going up toward a patch of snow then east to meet at the ridge crest an hour and 15 minutes from the lake for only a little over a mile (c7410’, 8.0m, 5:11p).  The travel was slower than anticipated, going down it would be faster and we only had about a half mile to go –right?  I tried dropping down the south side of the ridge and traversing east to the ridgeline that lead to the saddle north of Castle Peak.  From hiking to true two handed scrambling, then a stop.  A huge steep slabby ditch.  Time to back track, proving to be not easy navigation wise and technically. 



View from the dividing ridge (Princess Ridge?) to Castle (and route)


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One of the gullies that forced us to the south ridge route                                                                                             Dave contemplating the south ridge route


Back up on the ridge I we ascended to the east summit bypassing the steep gulleys and started down the ridge (c7554’, 8.2m, 5:30).  A little over a third of a mile and ridges make for quicker travel.  Good thing since daylight was running out.  We needed to be at camp within an hour to avoid figuring out where it is in the dark and cold. 

The ridge proved to spice things up.  Down climbing, back up and down, left and right to find a weakness down.  Some taller alpine brush glissading –hmmm, that will be interesting to try to get back up.  The left of the ridge cliffed out –BIG time.  The right side was better, but not much.  The going was slow and the promised land so close.


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Dave and Milda on the south ridge


I think we managed this section unscathed, and well prepped for what we were expecting tomorrow to hold.  We arrived at the saddle (c6560’, 8.6m, 6:30p) to find beautiful heather, granite boulder, golden larch, ample options and the sun set behind Castle, so getting very cold. 


Wheh!  Under 9 miles, but it too all day late start).  Good thing we didn’t start the day any later.  We had time to check for the best spot with least wind, set camp and cook a hot dinner while the skies darkened and the star began to fill the sky.  Martin said this was a good camp he was write.  We’d made it to the promised land. 

Day 1 stats, 8.6m, 7h, +4743/-2277



Night at Castle col camp



The first cold morning

Middle of the night I wanted to take star pictures.  Nice thing about the later season trips is the long nights and ample rest if you stop before dark.  It was dang cold out and I was happy I brought my winter bag, I was not budging from it tonight.  As the stars began to vanish from the dark sky we made a hot breakfast, discussed scramble ascent options and prepped for the day.  We calculated water -if we stayed here another night we would run short.  It was a long ways back to the lake and we had no idea how far we’d need to drop to find a stream.  The evening had gotten cold enough to freeze water bottles.  Would a stream be running?  Would there even be one? 


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Early morning sunrise at Castle col camp


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Larch everywhere


We headed east down valley the north side of Castle (7:48a, c6560). The north wall was impressive.  Vertical rock and a little east a snow patch leading to a ridge saddle.  Above the snowfield was over 100’ of loose nasty looking rock debris.  I was the only one to bring crampons, so we didn’t venture past a casual look as we headed down and east. 


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Heading down Crow Creek valley, Castle Peak on the right


A partially frozen stream below the snowfield was a happy sight.  We filled bladders, relieved to not have to fret about water.  Wait, partially frozen?  Weren’t Carla and I hiking in shorts last week?  Seasons are changing fast.  Little did we know at the time, but a few days after the trip fall started after three months of no precip with a splash.



Moon over Castle


Down and across boulders and talus. Bushwhacking about 40’ and traversing on boulders (c5500’) to under a series of gullies leading to the east ridge. We went up the gullies starting with the west closer one.  Further east the gullies looked similar, with an exit left out of the east gulley to a steep wooed slope.  The west of the gullies seemed to be a good choice.


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Looking up Crow Creek at the Castle Col and Princess Ridge                                                        The south ridge we used to access camp


Class of 2011 storms the Castle moats

Boulder hopping changed to talus and loose dirt.  Ahead a turn and the slope pitched up. The gulley no longer seemed like such a nice idea, change of plans.


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View from the Ridge to camp and down Crow Creek                                                                                      Our route up the far east gullies


At c6370’ I took leave and exited east to a heather face. Not fun getting there with everything I touch cascading (or trying to).  Dave and Mild were not too enthused with my progress, so continued up the gulley.


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Topping the rib east of the nasty gulley                                                                                           Views up Castle Creek to Canada


 I’d not recommend my route.  The heather provided no traction.  A little hairy gaining ground. And I know they’d not recommend their route without snow either.   I was happy to get to lower angle and the ridge.  Before the col I passed a very old cairn.  I wonder who and when it was placed.  My progress had been slow and I expected the others would be waiting for me at the top of the col (9:40a, c6600’).  To my surprise I got to watch a hair raising show.  Both are talented climbers, though I don’t think the top of the gulley counted as fun.  Stemming and searching for anything half-way non-mobile.  They were to a point of it being nasty going up and nastier to go back. 


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The, Uh, nasty gulley.  I think other words may have been used                  Dave and Milda at one of the easier spots


Soon they were out of the gulley and we all proclaimed we’d not return that way.  Hindsight and foresight  going further to the far east gulley and the exit to the treed slope may have been the best option for this route.  If the gulley had been snow filled, it would have been even better.  From here we wandered the south side of the ridge dodging boulders and trees. Before 11am, 2.0m, c7370’) we passed the “7400’” col.  Looking down it wasn’t as bad as it looked from below.  We only had one pair of crampons for the three of us, so this would most likely not be an option. 


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Freezout Mt                                                                                           The 7400’ col gulley


Progress was slow.  We knew where to go, just getting there was the issue.  Thick alpine tree walls and a mouse maze of boulders added spice. C7865, past ridge/ledge gap was a small wall with a cl4ish move (11:45, 2.3m).  More of the same previous scrambling with increasing views.  Peaks to the south looked like scree piles –maybe better to try those with snow. 


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The east ridge of Castle looking east                                                                                                The east ridge of Castle looking west to the summit –still the moon out


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The sight of South Hozomeen runs chills down my back                                                                               Crater Mt looks large when it’s bigger sister Jack is not visible



Nearing the summit, the view of South Hozomeen reminded my how loose the rock is on many of the surrounding peaks.  Yikes! 


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Sunshine and smiles                                            Dave and Milda relaxing on Castle Peak


There we stood, the Bulger class of 2011 minus one, on the summit (12:05, 2.5m, 8603’).  It would have been great if the others had made it, besides always fun with them on trips, we’d have the full class of 2011 group too.  It was a perfect end of summer feeling day, sun out, the cool breeze subsided and great views.  Little did we know that Fay, Jim and crew were just across the valley to the east.  An interesting note, my GPS Sat measurement measured the summit at 8339’ +/-8’.  The new maps show 8306 “Castle Peak” and old maps show 8340’ “Turret”


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Looking SE to the Pasaytens (Ptarmigan, Dot, Lago, Carru, Osceola and Rolo)                        Mt Baker (Sherman and Grant Peaks)


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The spiked peaks of the Southern Pickets                                                                                         Luna and the Northern Pickets



Foreground - South and North Hozomeen.   Background -The Chilliwacks - Twin Spires, Spickard and Custer Ridge



Dave on Castle, Princess Ridge on right and Frosty behind.  Far right is Castle Creek


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Custer Ridge (cring!!!)  Custer on left, Rahm on right and Devils Tongue                                Freeze out


Feeling no rush, we hung out.  Food, name that peak and chatting.  We spent a considerable time searching for a summit register.  Janet and others mentioned one, but alas, we couldn’t find one. 

I left a new large tube and booklet.  I hope it stays put.

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Mr H checking out the new register                                                                                                   Mr H summit shot


Just under an hour and a half we started our way back (1:32p).  In the boulder and tree maze, we seemingly wandered, as we worked down the ridge.  Some formations of balanced rocks inspired ideas.


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Dave checking out the seldom seen view south                                                                              Balanced ridge rocks


50 minutes down we took a gander at the 7400’ col.  Would this be our escape or would we have a long walk around with much added vertical. 


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Working down to the 7400’ col                                                         The exit gulley


Taking a risk on the exit gulley

Dave and Milda waited at the top as I carefully worked to a somewhat stable rib in down and to the left.  The rock was too loose for multiple people moving safely.  Below the pitch was steep through not so fun looking loose rock.  I re-located for a better view. Then back up to the rib and found a potential route.  We worked down the rib to a loose steeper pitch.  The dirt was too hard for a kick-grip and luckily barely held an ax pick to help lower to flatter terrain. 


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Top of the 7400’ col gulley                                                                                                                                 Not trusting the loose rock


I donned crampons at the snowfield, while Milda and Dave worked the narrow moat on the east side of the snowfield.  Almost a mini story in itself we all made it safely to the bottom (3:20p, 0.8m, c6265).  I’m very glad I brought crampons… 


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Without crampons Dave and Milda skirted the snowfield                                                            A few challenges to avoid the icy snowfield


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Luckily the moat was passable (in critical places)                           The col looks worse from below


After coming down we all mentioned that the 7400’ col would have been a lot easier ascent that what we’d done.  From below, without any snow up higher, it did not look like it would go, but it did.


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Not all the view are far away –cracked rock                                                                                    and the elusive to focus on Indian Paintbrush


On the way back to camp we found water trickling from the bottom of the ice field under the north wall (3:45p, 0.9m, c6280).  I returned to camp hoping for some sunshine, while Dave and Milda checked out the rock of the north wall climbs (4:15p, 1.3m, c6550).  My search for sunshine saw it woefully receding up the north ridge.  I’d settle for a warm coat. 


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A view from below of the ridge balanced rocks                                                                               Mr H dragged out a few munchies


The clear skies, golden larch and sunset kept us busy with shutter delay.  The temps were warmer and dinner was more comfortable for relaxing.  We could have tried to rush to a camp at the lakes below Frosty. Our choice was to take it easy and enjoy the day at this beautiful camp.  Much zooming in to check out the north wall climb routes.  We worked cooperatively to figure them out.  The NE Buttress (Kearney-Harrington 1986, IV 5.10+) looked formidable yet do-able.  Maybe a bit more than I’d want to bite off.  The Colorado Route (Herrington-Hirst 2008, IV 5.10+) looked to go pretty direct up the fall just left of the summit –dang steep and looked like it was a tough one.  West of the summit the Beckey Route (Beckey-Nolting-Tindall 1979, III 5.8 A1) looked more to my flavor.  Up a rib directly under the summit to a long slender snow patch.  Then rightish and up more rib to what looked like looser rock and ending on the west ridge. The NW Buttress Route (Berdina-Layton 2005, iii 5.10+ A1) started more vertical from snow up a ridge west of the Beckey Route.  About 2/3 of the way up it veered leftish and intersected above the loose looking stuff that topped the Beckey Route.  There looked to be many more options.  Very inviting for a return trip.



North wall Castle Peak Climbing and scramble routes


The day grew older and colors warmed.  The low light through the golden larch was like a brilliant fire.  Sunset brought purple colors, darkening skies and brilliant stars.


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Sunset from Castle col camp



In the middle of the night I woke to a warm eve and tried to get some night shots.  I could see Milda’s camera also in action.  Images could hardly capture the moments. More a way of sparking the memories.

Day 2 stats, 3.8m, 8h30m, +/-3170



Late evening at Castle col camp



Day 3, larch, larch and more larch

Last day, a warmer eve and a pleasant morning.  Like last night colors filled the sky as the day brightened.


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Moring sky colors from Castle col camp


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Morning sun on Castle Peak                                                                                                              The larch glowed like living fire


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No, she’s not sleeping, just working on a great photo                                                   More morning light play at the base of the climbs


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NE Buttress route                                                                  Beckey Route                                                         NW Buttress                                                          Far west ridge


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   Can’t help but take pictures of the larch… STUNNING…                                                                                              The south ridge of Princess RIdge


A little more relaxed with breakfast and breaking camp.  The ridge we’d used to get to camp wasn’t inviting, but a traverse around looked problematic.  8:10a we headed north up the ridge into the morning sun.  The route up was better than the route down.  Some scrambling and even with the somewhat narrow ridge route finding.  The ridge rose with a vertical drop to the right.  As per usual for this trip we were distracted checking out the climbing possibilities.


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On our right heading up the south ridge                                         Looking up the ridge


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Milda –always happy climbing                                                                                                          Struck still by “shutter delay”


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And more shutter delay -Dave                                           And more shutter delay- Milda                          And more –me    (photo by David Salinger)


 9:30 we took a 20 minute break on the ridge highpoint (0.5m, c7583’) to take in the last full view of the north face of Castle.  


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Milda gets a last look of Castle… for now                                                                                        South Hozomeen rises above the ridge


The route north was down large boulders, and enormous slab to a traverse just under 6600’ crossing the border.  Well, we never saw the border, but in the heather, larch and mossy basin we were in Canada (1.4m, 10:52, c6632). 


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Views on the way from the ridge back to the lower basin below the lake


We had plenty of water so our delay was from photo ops and taking in the views of the small beautiful lake.  I know at least one fellow hiker that will be taking a dip in this one ; -)  Larch, heather, granite and glassy reflections.  This would be a good camp for those looking for isolation. 


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Lake views…                                          is that Mr H in the tree?


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Old dried logs and a golden bed of needles


Thirty minute playing around, maybe stalling on having to go up the loose scree bluff.  The scree proved even more joyful than I could have imagined (cough cough… ; -). 



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Dave, heading up the bluff above the lake                                      2011 executive counsel makes a route call


From the top of the bluff (1.9m, c7150, 11:34a) the executive decision was a direct route up talus to the summit.  Dave and Milda are strong and left me in the dust (so to speak).  A few hundred feet below Frosty’s summit was a cairn with sunflowers.  Not sure what was up with it, was interesting the sunflowers in the vast barren talus field. 


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A sunflower cairn on the south ridge of Frosty                                                                                Looking west to Frosty Peak


At noon, I caught managed to drag my butt to Frosty’s east summit (2.2m, 7903’).  The trail from Lightning Lake ends at this summit.  Seemingly a long ways away the west summit is the true summit.  It does get visited, but not often compared to this easily attained point with it wooden post marker and walled area large enough for a tent.


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Dave and Milda on Frosty Peak                                         Castle views.  This hiker is making his goal of three peaks in three days


In our 50 minute hanging at the high point more and more people arrived.  Young, old, solo, large groups and even a pleasant dog.  Dave and I contemplated a trip west to the true summit and decided against for an earlier trip home.  We hardly noticed as Mr H crawled around, meeting the dog, checking out the hikers and showing off climbing the summit marker.  Without Mukmuk this trip was a fairly quiet one for Mr H. 


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Dave found Mr H in a now empty munchies bag            Mr H played around and climbed the summit post



Mr H meets a nice summit dog –The dog liked being pet


It was nearing 1pm when we left.  The ridge trail was partially cleared in talus.  We must have passed at least 20 more people in the quarter mile to the end of the ridge (another pole sign) (2.5m, 1:05, c7628). 



Windy Joe Mt


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From the NE end looking up the ridge to the false summit                                                                            A line of hikers heading to the false summit


Another decision to return the way we’d come.  The other option to return via Windy Joe, was inviting, but would get us back later and we had a long drive to look forward to.  The talus trail morphed to firm dirt, surrounded by heather and larch.  Another mob or two of people by the cutoff to the water turnoff. 


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More larch and trail views


And more people in our walkthrough the larch meadows. The larch meadows faded into alpine woods (3.8m, c6733’, 1:45p) and for some reason another pause at “Frosty Camp” (4.4m, c6305’, 1:57p).  Another hiker or so here and a couple tents.  I think we scared a few off.  Not the camp robbers though.  Up here they are fearless.  Even the sight of food has them snatching it from you before you know what happened.  Dave and I hassled Milda as she spent plenty of time trying for a shot of a robber landing on my head.



Milda called this my angel watching over me (photo by Milda Tuatvydas)                               Frosty Camp Robbers


The trail from here was like most on exit.  Discussion to help the tread go by and thoughts of the trip filling the mind.  Not being in any hurry, in another 50 minutes we took another 20 minute break before the switchbacks (7.0m, c5173’, 3:00) -same place as on the way up.  I remember some comments on how lucky we were for timing of this trip –weather, golden larch, temperatures…  The next 1.6 miles went by smoothly, temps warming as we descended to Lightning Lake (8.6m, c4150’, 3:50).  There were boats, canoes and fishermen in the lake. 




Lightning Lake parking lot


The parking lot was full, I guess that answers our question on if people were still recreating here this late in the season. 

Day 3 stats, 8.6m, 7h40m, +2400/-4753


Not over yet

We took some time at the lake. Why rush away on such a nice day?  The drive west on Trans Canada 3 was beautiful.  Don’t space out too much and hit the speed trap.  The Skagit River is much smaller along the highway and before Hope an enormous slide had in the past taken out a huge chunk of the mountain (The “Hope Slide”).  Un-eventful the ride back and no re-occurrence of the manure spraying from our route up. 



Mt Baker, Black Buttes (Grant, Colfax, Lincoln and Seward peaks)


Baker was standing out majestically as is her norm and being a passenger I was able to take the time to notice Lincoln.  Interesting how peaks look different after you’ve visited them.  Mr H, had little trouble talking Dave into driving direct to the Tequila Academy (Casa de Pasa).  The burritos were huge and even though I told myself I’d only eat a half, it was gone in a blink.  Mr H had a margarita and was his joyful self.  We managed to get out of there before they cut him off.  Ever see a sock monkey after a few margaritas?




Janet did comment:

“… riding the burrito LMAO. Kind of reminds me of the old movie... Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb Burrito :)


A sunlit drive and filling meal were a nice way to finish a great weekend adventure.  Perfect weather, a little route finding and not knowing the route option that would go.  It was fun having less beta.  Comments in PaulK’s Summitpost report just added to the spice.

“Castle massif is fairly complex, like a fortification should be, I guess

“Castle’s long North Face is an imposing wall of granite ribs, gullies, and couloirs with ice sheets or remnants of ice sheets.”


A warmer feeling came from personal accounts from, MartinS, JanetP, DonBe, DaveC and trip reports from JimB, Mike Collins and Frosty info on Club Tread.

We did miss the other three that couldn’t make the trip.  I know when they go it should be a great trip.  I highly recommend fall with the beautiful colors and the northern route Martin cued us into.


Thanks everyone for a fun and successful trip!

Happy trails,





Day 1 stats, 8.6m, 7h, +4743/-2277

Day 2 stats, 3.8m, 8h30m, +/-3170

Day 3 stats, 8.6m, 7h40m, +2400/-4753

stats total,  21m, 23h10m, +/-10313


Gear:   crampons, ice ax, extra water…


Route Maps:









Old map of Turret Peak 8340


Copyright 2012, FWB, all rights reserved