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Eisenhower Tower

Difficulty: 
Alpine Climb
YDS Difficulty: 
5.6
Bushwhackyness: 
None
Tripdate: 
Sunday, June 21, 2015

Given all tropical temperatures recently it was time to start transitioning to rock objectives.  Steven and I had been eyeing up Eisenhower Tower for quite some time (it is exceedingly prominent from the trans Canada!).  Neither of us had climbed anything on the Castle Mountain massif either so an added bonus would be some 'new' views.  Figuring that it might take a while we decided to make it into an overnight trip stopping off on the goat plateau near the Castle Mountain Hut and climbing the peak in the morning.

 
Setting out from the Castle Lookout trail we came across a decent number of tourists who looked pretty confused at us leaving the trailhead in the evening, not to mention ropes and helmets!  The advantage of this is that temperatures weren't overly toasty heading up the well worn trail to the official lookout.  From the lookout we followed the directions from Banff Rock finding the diagonal break in the rock cliffs which granted access to more scrambly terrain above, and eventually the goat plateau itself (see, Banff Rock for more details).  The Castle Mountain Hut gets a bad rap for its spartan decor but it does sit at a most excellent viewpoint and is worth a visit for sunset views alone.
 

Setting out on the Castle Lookout trail.

 

Doesn't take long to get some decent views on this trail.

 

Looking up towards Castle Mountain from one of the clearings.

 

View from the official lookout.

 

The diagonal break used to access the upper mountain.

 

A fairly good trail winds upwards to the hut.

 

The Castle Mountain hut... shelter... shed....

 

Great viewpoint.

 

Next morning we awoke around sunrise and set off traversing the goat plateau to the base of Eisenhower Tower, the mighty Dragon's Back.  Folks normally scramble the Dragons Back and we did the same (there are a couple quite committing moves to contend with though!).  Once on the flats higher up we came across the notch, scrambled down and roped up for the 5.6ish crux moves to reach the 'start' of the published route.  For future reference the guidebook says that the crux pitch is unprotectable but we managed to get a good 0 C3 in to take a bit of the load in case of a fall.  The rest of the route followed as for the guidebook (we took the left variation which had bolted anchors at the end of each pitch), didn't really take many pictures with either climbing or belaying though...
 

Morning glow from the hut.

 

Steven traversing on the goat plateau to the base of the route.

 

The first part of the dragon's back warms you up quickly!

 

Good scrambling on the dragon's back.

 

Past the gully, now on the left hand variation.

 

Me leading one of the pitches on the upper mountain.  Photo by Steven Song.

 

Me heading to the base of the second to last pitch.  Photo by Steven Song.

 

Summit views were pretty fabulous, especially looking down towards Rockbound Lake.  On the summit we met up with a guided party that had been doing the right hand variation (the normal route) who we had been hollering at back and forth throughout the morning.  After a quick snack and break it was time to start rapping down, starting about 2 raps behind the guided group.  Including the rap down the approach there were 12 in all, quite a lot of time spent hanging around!  All in all quite a fun route, with solid rock when you need it.  I look forward to coming back and doing the normal route at some point!
 

Up on the summit we met up with the other party.

 

Great summer day.

 

Looking down towards Rockbound Lake.

 

Me on one of the many raps back down the route.  Photo by Steven Song.

 

Steven on the last rap of the day to get down the diagonal break back to the lookout trail.

 

More nice views from the lookout trail.

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