Our original plan was to climb the east ridge of Edith Cavell with Brian. That idea got put on hold when a large chunk of the north glacier fell off wreaking havoc and closing access to the mountain for the rest of the season. (The first time I climbed Cavell I think we bivied right behind the outhouses in this photo.) So instead we set our sights on Castle Mountain to climb Eisenhower Tower, the three of us having climbed Brewer Buttress together in 2010.
Castle Mountain: Brewer in green, Eisenhower in red
After hiking up the Rockbound Lake Trail and skirting around ledges we arrived at the broad plateau which girdles the entire mountain. From here the first order of business is to get onto the Dragon's Back, a short crenellated ridge that juts out from the foot of the tower itself. We took a line just to climbers left of the prow and after a few easy 5th class moves we were scrambling along the top of this feature. It's quite spectacular in a few places.
Brian on the Dragons Back
Between the Dragons Back and the Tower is a deep notch with a short but tricky 5.6++ crack. We got the rope out here for the first time. After some grunting and groaning were up the other side just in time for second breakfasts and a good look at the route above where there are two main options.
I had climbed the left side before so this time we headed to climbers right. We didn't have any route description for this side and just kinda winged it. Unsure whether to keep the rope on or not we left it on and took turns running out it's full 60m length, slinging a few blocks along the way, and then bringing up both seconds at the same time. I think we did about 5 or 6 pitches.
Brian on the route
It felt much less travelled than I remembered the other side being. We came across one fixed anchor after the first pitch and nothing but the odd sling after that. I think there was more continuous climbing on this side but none of it was really exceptional. Nevertheless it's still a fine route to the top of a Rockies landmark.
We had a good view at both the route we had just come up and also of the route we would be descending (in green) where there is a series of established rap anchors.
A couple of notes on the descent for anyone interested. The first anchor can be found by scrambling down below the crest of the plateau as in this picture where Brian (the lowest figure) is standing at the anchor.
First rap anchor
A bit of scrambling and another rap brings you to rap #3 (?) which is placed behind a fin of rock with an awkward start. If you rap to the end of the ropes here (we had a 60m) you end up in a tenuous spot to pull the ropes with some tricky downclimbing below. Instead, there is an intermediate 2 bolt anchor several meters to climbers right that looks like a much better option.
After some scrambling you end up at a "funnel" where all of the scree collects from the amphitheatre above. We made our way to the bottom of the scree and then followed an exposed but easy ledge to skiers left which placed us right at the top of P1.
Finally, rather than retracing our steps across the Dragons Back, we rapped down the east side of the notch which separates the Dragons Back from the tower. A 60m rope isn't quite long enough to reach the ground with one rappel. There is an intermediate anchor about 2/3 of the way down that is easy to miss.
In the end we somehow turned this into a 12 hour day which was a good 4 or 5 hours longer than we had anticipated.
Conditions Update Apr 11 2017
2 weeks ago