Castle Mountain

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Photo of Castle Mountain
Photo uploaded by Dow Williams

First ascended in 1884 by Arthur Coleman, Castle Mountain is noteworthy because it is the easternmost mountain of the Main Ranges in the Bow Valley of the Canadian Rockies. It is a "castellate" type of mountain in which the flat-lying layers feature near vertical cliffs alternating with flat or gently sloped terraces which have been sculptured by glacial and other forms of erosion. It sits east of the Trans-Canada Highway between Banff and Lake Louise. Castle is one of the most photographed in the valley and a favorite of local artists. It is also frequently climbed via the easiest of four rock alpine routes, the Eisenhower Tower. It can be skied in the winter or scrambled in the summer as well (over "easy" that is) via the beautiful Rockbound Lake approach.

There is a hut on Castle Mountain I have never been too. It is called the Castle Mountain Bivouac Hut. It sleeps 4-6 and is located on the Goat Plateau below the third buttress from the Southwest end. You can make reservations and/or get more information from the Alpine Club of Canada. I added their link in the link section.

Getting There

Drive to Castle Junction 31 km (19 miles for any tourist from Sacramento) west of Banff via either the Trans-Canada Highway or Bow Valley Parkway (more Elk to be spotted along the Parkway). From Trans-Canada, take the Castle Junction exit and proceed east under a bridge (huge nest on the bridge houses an Osprey who has raised young every year I have lived here) and turn right at the stop sign and pull into the Rockbound Lake trailhead on your left. From Bow Valley Parkway, Rockbound Lake trail head will be on your right before the Castle Junction gas station. Go to the route section for the variable approaches.

Red Tape

Castle is located in Banff National Park. No climbing permits or parking passes required except for the Banff Park pass itself. This is bear territory as is most of the Canadian Rockies parks. I spotted a Fisher (of the weasel family) here which is quite uncommon. There are several Hoary Marmots as well (very common).

When To Climb

Castle Mountain is listed in the three bibles of the Canadian Rocky outdoor enthusiast: "Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies", "Selected Alpine Climbs in the Canadian Rockies" and "Summits and Icefields- Canadian Rockies Alpine Ski Tours" (have added all these books to the book link on this page). So pick your poison, Castle can be challenged any time of year. You can attach crampons and take on the rock routes in winter if you so chose.

More Route Information

I have only done one Alpine Rock Route on Castle. There are three others, Bass Buttress Alpine II 5.6; Brewer Buttress Alpine II 5.6; Ultra-Brewers Alpine III 5.9. Would love to have someone add these routes to this main page.

Castle can also be scrambled by continuing up through Tower and Rockbound Lakes. I have been up this way doing three other scrambles in the area. The plateau above Rockbound Lake is magnificent and Castle is rated an easy scramble. This would be an excellent day for the avid hiker.

Because of the wide trail ascending to Tower Lake, this makes a great back country ski adventure as well. Again, if you have information to this route, add it please. It is 28k round trip. Part of this ski is considered avalanche prone. I added the Canadian Avalanche Association to the link page.

Detailed route beta and photos can be found at DowClimbing.Com

Elevation (feet): 9,074
Elevation (meters): 2,766
Continent: North America
Country: Canada
Range/Region: Canadian Rockies
Province: Alberta
Latitude: 51.3055
Longitude: -115.939
Difficulty: Technical Climb
Year first climbed: 1884
First successful climber(s): Arthur P. Coleman
Nearest major airport: Calgary
Convenient Center: Banff

Thanks to Dow Williams for adding this peak.

Trip Reports

There are 5 trip reports for Castle Mountain.

  • Log #18537 - by Lorne Graham on Dec 10, 20033.00 stars
    Isinhower tower 5.4, onsight solo. 4hours 27min. Car to Car.
  • Log #18538 - by Cassie,Sheldon, and Bill Sutton on Oct 26, 20033.00 stars
    The kids and I had a very long day. We waited all week for the snow to melt off a little more before we tackled this monster. The melt was still on when we finally went up. We were able to enjoy some...
  • Log #19086 - by Dow Williams on Feb 14, 20063.00 stars
    Eisenhower Route: Once at the Rockbound Lake Trailhead, proceed up towards Tower and Rockbound Lakes, approximately 2300'. As you flatten out, you will come across a creek crossing. At that point pay...
  • Log #20880 - by Cheryle Battrum on July 16, 20073.00 stars
    We ascended to the hut late in the evening, then got up early the next morning, climbed the Dragon's Back and a 5.6 route to the top of Eisenhower Tower, and descended to the car. Stellar.
  • Log #21294 - by Darlene & Nancy on May 30, 20083.00 stars
    Amazing hike with lots of scrambling and route finding. Long hike out to the actual start of the climb, but so worth it! Signed log at summit with my best friend of over 40+ years!!