The Castle Wilderness is one of the most beautiful places in southern Alberta and on clear days, the entire front range is visible from Lethbridge. Inspired by Bob Spirko’s trip report, I invited my nephew, Jeff, to join me in a scramble up Drywood Mountain. The trip was awesome, and the best part about it, was that Jeff caught the scrambling bug… resistance is futile! 😉
The route that we used comes directly from Bob Spirko, so I will leave his trip report to explain the details.
A look at our elevation gains and the distance travelled.
Looking down the valley that Drywood Creek runs through. Pincher Ridge is on the right and the summit of Drywood Mountain is on the left. The west peak of Drywood is in the centre. Nugara’s route in, More Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, ascends the from the Bovin Lake Trail which is located one valley over to the south.
Our plan was to go up the north slopes (centre) of Drywood using Bob’s route.
To do this, we needed to find a drainage at the base of the mountain and then use it to gain access to the slopes in the middle of the picture. These would then lead us to the ridge that led to the false summit (top left).
Thankfully this bear scat was old. I’m not sure the elk or deer that the bear ate was thankful though…
The drainage where we left the road. We followed this toward the mountain and we were praying that we didn’t encounter a bear along the way as there would have been few options for escape due to the canyon walls and dense vegetation.
The drainage itself was quite beautiful and we could easily hike up the rocks and avoid the vegetation on the side.
Looking up the drainage canyon.
Jeff works his way up the creek.
The drainage finally opened up and we could access Drywood’s slopes which are on the right.
Climbing out of the drainage.
It’s called Drywood Mountain for a reason. 😉
Looking further up the canyon as we gain some elevation.
Spider Rock, Spider Rock, does whatever a spider can…
I thought the north slopes looked rather steep as we were walking toward the mountain. Needless to say, that was an understatement.
Side sloping our way up.
The summit of Pincher Ridge in the background.
Almost at the ridge and looking down at the road.
The road ends further up the valley at a well site.
Looking back down the steep slopes toward the drainage canyon. Out approach route along the road can also be seen.
The view once we gained the ridge. The false summit is on the left and the true summit is the tiny bump in the middle.
Looking south from the ridge.
The mighty Thor!
As always, there are interesting rocks to find.
Our hike is now all on scree.
Finally on the summit ridge.
The false summit is in the foreground right and the summit is in background. The large summit cairn is visible on the top.
A cool rock formation on the false summit.
The summit comes into view and the colour of the rock changes to black. For fun we walked along the ridge on the right.
Jeff works his way along the summit ridge.
The view from the summit ridge. The first ridge we gained is on the far right.
Looking up to the summit.
Yellow lichen is contrasted against the black rock.
The summit of Drywood Mountain. The large cairn resembled an army foxhole
The official summit marker. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a summit registry which was disappointing.
Looking south and southwest from the summit. Loaf Mountain is the tall peak on the left. From the top of Drywood you can walk around the ridge and reach Loaf. From Loaf you can then walk along another ridge to Spionkop Ridge (immediately to the left of Loaf) and then into Waterton National Park. On the right is the Southwest Summit of Drywood and in the middle is “Little Bo-Diddley”.
The view from the summit looking west. Victoria Ridge is on the left, the South Peak, and the Centre Peak of Pincher Ridge are in the centre and on the distant right are, Windsor Mountain and Castle Peak.
Looking east toward Lethbridge from the summit. On a clear day, you can see Drywood Mountain from Lethbridge.
A headstand has become a summit tradition in our family…
Looking back down to the false summit. One of the coolest things that we saw from the summit was the formation of a cloud. We watched the vapour rise up from the valley and gather just above the mountain.
In less than 20 minutes, an entire cloud had formed.
Colourful rock adorns the southern slopes of Drywood.
Jeff relaxes on the summit.
More alpine flora.
Prairie Bluff (aka Corner Mountain) in the distance.
Red argillite is one of the reasons why the mountains in this area have such striking colours.
On the way back down with the summit of Pincher Ridge in the background.
The last bit left to bushwack before reaching the drainage.
Back into the drainage.
A view of the valley with Drywood Creek running through it.
Looking back at Drywood Mountain (right) after a fantastic day of hiking. Someday, I would like to revisit Drywood Mountain using Nugara’s route and include the west peak in the process.