Burnabyhiker and myself figured we could knock off Castle Towers in around 12 hours. What we didn't factor in was the huge amount of picture taking that would add a couple more hours to an already long day. I took over 250 pictures whilst Chris clocked in at a staggering 450 or so[:0].
We decided to start from the Rubble Creek trailhead as opposed to the Cheakamus Lake one on advice from EAK as he'd done Mt. Carr from Rubble in a day a couple of years before.
Good time was made up to Taylor Meadows. On route we bumped into David (David and Karen on CT) who was heading for Price. The decision had been made to wear trail runners and pack the boots for when we hit snow.
Which we did around the Helm Lake area. Here we took our first break and then continued onwards next to a creek heading for the Helm Glacier.
Black Tusk eastern aspect.
Looking up the creek towards the Gentian Peak/Panorama Ridge col area.
The problem was, we were on the wrong side of the creek if we wanted to get to the toe of the glacier. The decision was made to head upwards towards the area centre right in the picture above. This went well and cut off some distance.
Deception, Guard, Garibaldi and The Table with Garibaldi Lake below from the Gentian Peak/Panorama Ridge col.
From the col we ascended slightly before dropping down and traversing across the upper Helm Glacier to end up at the Gentian Ridge/Peak pass. From here we had views of today's objective.
Chris crossing the upper Helm Glacier.
Today's objective: Castle Towers.
After taking a quick break and some more pictures
we head steeply downwards losing around 300m in elevation to get to the Gentian/Polemonium Pass (1810m). Then it's a gain of over 450m elevation to the Polemonium Ridge summit area.
Garibaldi Lake, Mt. Price and the Tantalus Range seen from the ascent of the ridge.
Chris heading up with Gentian Ridge and Corrie Peak behind.
Another quick break with copious picture taking and we were ready to tackle the next step.
Heading off Polemonium, Castle Towers looming above.
We drop off southwards losing another 100m or so and staying mostly on rock. Then we gain the west ridge of Castle Towers and start up. There's a few cairns here and there but the route is pretty straightforward. One patch of snow is crossed, but it's mostly rock hopping upwards on good sized boulders.
Western view. Most of our route from the far side of the lake is visible.
Finally, we top out on the Western summit of around 2645m
seven hours after we started. But, just over there is the true summit and I would really like to have this one in the bag.
Central (true) summit from the Western one.
Chris on the western summit with Mt. Carr centre area shot and Mamquam rear right. Baker just visible way back.
Chris elected to stay where he was and get a few shots of me trying for the central summit. I downclimbed to the notch. The last part here is a little tricky, but it went well. I'd bought a rope but did not use it. We also had bought crampons and iceaxes but never used them either.
The downclimb. The tricky spot is just above the snow.
From here I make my way over blocky rock and traverse around the north side of the peak. Mostly easy going with some exposure. On the east side I them ascend easily to the summit of 2675m and happy feelings.
Looking back at Chris (lower right) with Garibaldi Lake and Mt. Price behind.
Retracing my steps I rejoin Chris and we take some more pictures.
Western summit, Wedge on skyline.
Now, still quite a bit of up hill to do on the return though we are still feeling pretty good.
Weart and Wedge from Polemonium Ridge
By the time we'd slogged the 300m or so elevation back up to the Gentian col the energy levels were starting to drop. Lot's of distance left but minimal elevation gains from now on.
Shadow shot, Overlord area rear left.
Northeast view, partial Spearhead and Fitzsimmons Ranges.
We head back along the top of the Helm Glacier planning to retrace our steps back down to Helm Lake.
Upper Helm Glacier with Panorama Ridge and Black Tusk.
Stopping at a bump between Gentian Peak and Panorama Ridge the decision is made to side hill the northern slopes of Panorama and drop down onto the trail near Black Tusk Lake.
Guard, Garibaldi, The Table and Chris from bump area.
Deception and Guard Peaks to the SSE from bump area.
After the sidehilling we dropped down to the regular trail and saw out first people in over ten hours.
The Table with The Tent above it, Garibaldi and Price on the trail back to Taylor Meadows.
We walked and chatted with some people for a while who were camping. Many people up this way this weekend.
Back onto the main trail and a long 6.5 km walk down to the vehicle, emerging in the dark nearly 15 hours after we started. I think I took more pictures today than any other. Chris certainly did, and we both set personal bests in cumulative elevation (around 3100m) and longest day trip.
In Squamish a quick re fuel with MacDonald's, and then home to some well deserved rest
With views like this, I can see why you'd want to overnight in this area.
Chris will have some more pictures to add and hopefully a word or two as I may have forgotten something.