Peak Climbed: Castle Mountain South (8,858')

Route: Brewer Buttress

Difficulty: 5.6

Location: Banff National Park, Canada

Trailhead: Castle Mountain Fire Lookout

Mileage & Gain: 7.5 mi & 4,500 ft

Date Climbed: August 15, 2017

Castle Mountain is so called because, well, it "looks exactly like a gigantic castle" to use the words of the guy who named it. This peak has a commanding position above the Trans-Canada Highway and is widely photographed by visitors to Banff National Park via a convenient pullout dedicated to that purpose. This side of Castle Mountain is comprised of two major cliff bands separated by a ledge system that runs the entire length of the long southwest face. This massive shale ledge is known as Goat Plateau. The lower cliff band is dolomite, and the upper limestone.

The lower level of the famous southwest face can be breached via a fourth class weakness, and there is a tiny hut on Goat Plateau. The hut, offering a few bunk beds and a stove, can be reserved through the Alpine Club of Canada. There are no non-technical routes through the upper band.

Brewer Buttress climbs the upper limestone cliff band in 13 pitches and tops out on the slightly lower southern summit of Castle Mountain. The true high point is nearly three miles away, but it seems few venture there. As evidenced by the summit register, this more familiar and striking southern summit is a popular destination for climbers and hikers alike.

This was my first time placing gear in limestone! Even though the climbing was easy, I was a little nervous and felt compelled to place ample protection in the event that a hold broke. The position throughout the climb is absolutely fantastic!

Unfortunately the descent gully back to Goat Plateau is quite nasty even as gullies go! Being in there with another party would not be a good idea.

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