My plan for the day was to actually bag Castle Mountain. The day starts with a ~9Km hike to rock bound lake. The trail to the lake is a wide popular tourist trail so the going is pretty easy.

On the way to Rockbound Lake you pass Tower Lake. A picturesque lake with Eisenhower tower in the background. More on Eisenhower tower later.

Very close to Rockbound Lake with Helena Ridge in the background. During the fall, all these larch trees turn yellow and the view is even better. At this point in time, my objective was still Castle Mountain however.

Rockbound lake is a fairly good destination in itself. It was around this time I met two guys who were coming down from Castle Mountain. They claimed the snow was chest deep and they spent the night up there. Having seen the snow from the highway, I was a bit worried there would be too much snow to ascend Castle. Side Note: Camping in the Rock Bound Lake area isn’t permitted by Parks Canada.

Normally, I wouldn’t let a little snow slow me down but the terrain on Castle isn’t to be taken lightly. At the bottom of the snow slopes is a huge cliff dropping down to rockbound lake. If the snow happened to slide (which it very well could with daytime warming), you would be swept over the cliffs at the bottom. They call this a terrain trap and would result in a very bad day, perhaps your last bad day. So it is time for a new objective. Despite the hikers telling me Helena was also covered in snow it looked reasonable to me so I figured I’d go take a look. That is Helena Ridge in the distance.

After scrambling up above the lake I took a look at the route up Helena ridge. The snow looks completely avoidable, better go for it!

On the summit. Below is Rockbound lake and Tower lake. Behind them is Castle Mountain. Remember those snow slopes and cliffs I mentioned? This photo really shows what I was referring to. Not a place I would want to be today.

So who was this Helena that gets a mountain named after her? Her husband was Charles Walcott, a geologist who spent many summers studying the geology of this area. He named this summit after his wife. The small summit at the end of the ridge in this photo was named after his son Stuart (now called Stuart Knob).

Sadly, Helena was killed in a tragic train accident in 1911.

The views from up here are not bad at all!

Traditional Summit Selfie!

Castle Mountain was originally named for its castle like appearance (clever, right?). However in 1946 while General Eisenhower was visiting Canada, Prime Minster McKenzie King figured it would be a good idea to rename Castle Mountain to Eisenhower in his honour. Generally, the locals didn’t approve of this and it took until 1976 before the name was changed back to Castle Mountain (because it looks more like a castle than a war general). However, the tower on the left side of castle mountain still holds his name; Eisenhower tower (and rhymes nicely too I might add).

Anyway, enough history and summit views, time to get out of here. If you look closely, you can see somebody scrambling down the rock face. That is Dawid, a gentleman from Edmonton I met while on my way up. I then spent the reset of the trip pronouncing his name incorrectly, sorry about that Dawid.

One last look at the backside of Castle Mountain on the way out. I’ll be back for this someday.

Heading back down to the plateau above rockbound lake. The clouds are starting to build so it is certainly time to head out.

Picture Dawid took of me working my way through the snowy bits. A couple spots were well over waist deep and surprised me when I plunged in.

On the way back out, a quick look at Tower lake before the 8Km hike back to the car.

1 Comment

Shawn Bags Castle Mountain – Banff National Park – Trip Bagger · October 31, 2021 at 3:18 pm

[…] to Rockbound lake, which is worth the 8.5Km hike in. Helena Ridge can be seen in the background. Shortly after leaving rockbound lake you get into an interesting area above the lake. The valley I […]

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