Albertawow

Castleguard Mountain Alpine Climb

  Ratings:    Ratings 5 Star
Time/Dist: Two Days / 36K return Elevation Gain: 1617m

Trailhead: Castleguard Mountain is located near the Columbia Icefields, 117kms south of the Jasper town site and approximately 100kms north of Lake Louise. Park at the old abandoned concrete bridge just before big bend on the Jasper Park highway. Banff National Park.

Description: Castleguard Mountain is not a hike, but a mountaineering objective that requires experience in glacier travel and crevasse rescue. Castleguard Mountain is located on the south side of the Columbia Icefields which gains access from the Saskatchewan and Athabasca glaciers but the most popular approach being the Saskatchewan Glacier side. Though it is not a technical climb, the distance involved requires good stamina along with the proper gear for an overnight stay and a possible crevasse rescue. Total distance one way is approximately 18Km with an elevation gain of 1617m. Though some parties will make the entire trip in one day, most parties will take two or three. Allow 6-8 hours to the base of Mount Castleguard and another 3 hours to the summit. The main obstacles are accessing the Saskatchewan Glacier (becoming harder late in the summer) and the lateral moraine below Castleguard Meadows. Access the Saskatchewan Glacier several meters above the outlet stream on the north side, after grinding your way up and over several very annoying terminal moraines. Hike up what feels like a never ending expanse of ice past a wooden debris field, the remnants of rotting shelters built by the U.S. Army's 87th Mountain Division in the 1930's (The US Army should come back and clean this up). Once you pass the debris field head towards Castleguard Meadows and the lateral moraine where the glacier begins to tension on the bend and becomes heavily crevassed.

This moraine is guarded by large, deep mud flats that are squeezed between the Saskatchewan Glacier and the lateral moraine running along the entire width of Castleguard Meadows. I'm assuming the moraine erodes more and higher every year as the Saskatchewan Glacier recedes, so access may change. On our ascent, the moraine was only accessible at the far west side of Castleguard Meadows located near some awesome looking lateral crevasses. The glacier offered us a safe snow bridge onto the moraine where it was not to steep to ascend, however the moraine does require some route finding skills to avoid exposed rock slabs covered with loose scree. Once you arrive at the top of the moraine you'll be glad it's behind you, catch your breath and enjoy the views of the Columbia Icefields and several kilometers of the unusual terraced landscape that lies ahead. These terraced slabs of rock were created by retreating glaciers. Work your way up the terraces beside a light colored rock slide leading towards the base of little Castleguard. Here you'll find several good spots to pitch a tent and lots of fresh running water. The ascent of Castleguard Mountain begins by heading straight up the 25-30 degree just right of the summit of little Castleguard. Walk along the top of an enormous moat melted out in the ice by heat reflected off little Castleguard. Wow, this moat is at least a kilometer long, several meters deep and looks like a blue wave of ice. It will certainly catch your attention. From the moat, cross the short snowfield/glacier below Castleguard Mountain than work your way up to the summit. Our route was centre left of the summit cliff and entailed a 50m snow climb of 45-50 degrees. On our accent the bergshrund was easily negotiated by an obvious bridge. Once you reach the summit you can see across the entire Columbia Icefields towards Mount Columbia, Mount Bryce, Snow Dome, Mount Kitchener, Mount Andromeda, Mount Athabasca and to the east, Mount Saskatchewan. Unfortunately on our ascent there were several forest fires in the area and the sky was a smoke haze consequently ending up with poor photos. The summit registry showed 13 people in the past 5 years. From the summit of Castleguard Mountain back to the truck at big bend on the Jasper highway took us 7.5 hours which included packing up base camp. Castleguard Mountain is the place to go if you're looking for solitude and remoteness in a beautiful alpine environment. Photo's below were taken in late August.

Near Here: Local campgrounds include Wilcox Creek, Icefields Centre Parking Lot, Columbia Icefields Tents Only. There are several hikes located in this area. Parker Ridge, Hilda Ridge, Hilda Glacier, Boundary Lake, Nigel Pass, Weeping Wall, Wilcox Pass, Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb, Mount Athabasca North Glacier, Castleguard Mountain Alpine Climb and the Saskatchewan Glacier. You are in bear country.

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Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Castleguard Mountain  
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Saskatchewan Glacier And Castleguard Mountain Saskatchewan Glacier And Castleguard Mountain
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Saskatchewan Glacier Lateral Moraine South Side Saskatchewan Glacier
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Bear Track Mom Bear Track Cub
   
 
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Saskatchewan Glacier And Castleguard Mountain Moraines On Right Side Access To Saskatchewan Glacier
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Saskatchewan Glacier Crevasse Saskatchewan Glacier
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
North Glacier Mount Saskatchewan North Glacier Mount Saskatchewan
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Saskatchewan Glacier South Face Mount Andromeda
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Old Army Camp Debris Saskatchewan Glacier Old Army Camp Debris Saskatchewan Glacier
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Looking Towards Mount Andromeda, Mount Athabasca Saskatchewan Glacier
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Deep Mud Flats Below Castleguard Meadows Lateral Moraine Lateral Moraine Below Castleguard Meadows
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Lateral Moraine Below Castleguard Meadows Lateral Moraine Below Castleguard Meadows
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Looking Towards Mount Andromeda  
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Looking Towards Mount Andromeda And Mount Athabasca Saskatchewan Glacier Lateral Crevasses
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Saskatchewan Glacier Lateral Moraine Saskatchewan Glacier Lateral Moraine
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
  Rock Slide Near The Base Of Castleguard Mountain
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Looking towards Mount Andromeda And Mount Athabasca Looking Towards Castleguard Meadows
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Saskatchewan Glacier Looking Towards Castleguard Meadows
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Looking Towards Castleguard Meadows Looking Down Towards Base Camp
   
 
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Looking Towards Mount Andromeda Looking Towards Mount Andromeda
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Looking Towards Mount Andromeda Glacier South West Side Of Mount Andromeda
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Saskatchewan Glacier Glacier South West Side Of Mount Andromeda
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Saskatchewan Glacier Saskatchewan Glacier
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Looking Towards Mount Andromeda And Mount Athabasca Mount Saskatchewan
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Summit Castleguard Mountain Summit Castleguard Mountain
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Mount Andromeda South Face Looking Back Towards Saskatchewan Glacier
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Huge Moat Around Little Castleguard Huge Moat Around Little Castleguard
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Castleguard Mountain Snow Dome And Mount Andromeda
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Serac's Near Summit Of Castleguard Mountain  
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Sunrise Over Mount Saskatchewan Sunrise Over Mount Saskatchewan
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Early Morning Near The summit Of Castleguard Mountain Looking Towards Mount Andromeda And Mount Athabasca
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Looking Towards Snow Dome Near Summit Looking Towards Snow Dome Near Summit
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Views East From The Summit Of Castleguard Mountain Near The Summit Of Castleguard Mountain
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Mount Bryce Mount Columbia
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Top Of The Columbia Icefields Looking Towards Mount Andromeda And Mount Athabasca
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Views West From Summit Of Castleguard Mountain Views Southeast From Summit Of Castleguard Mountain
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Views Southwest From Summit Of Castleguard Mountain Looking Towards Mount Columbia
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Looking Towards Mount Columbia And Snow Dome Towards Snow Dome, Mount Andromeda, Mount Athabasca
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Looking Towards Mount Andromeda And Mount Athabasca Looking Back Towards Saskatchewan Glacier
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Mount Columbia Snow Dome
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Views South From Summit Of Castleguard Mountain Views South From Summit Of Castleguard Mountain
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Views South From Summit Of Castleguard Mountain Views East From Summit Of Castleguard Mountain
   
Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park Mount Athabasca Alpine Climb Jasper National Park
Views East From Summit Of Castleguard Mountain Serac's Near Summit Of Castleguard Mountain
   
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