Forum Index > Trip Reports > Wedgemount Lake 9/4/22, Castle Towers Mountain 9/5/22 (Garibaldi)
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geyer
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geyer
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PostMon Sep 12, 2022 9:34 pm 
I've wanted to explore the land of our neighbors to the north in the summer for a while, but the neverending WA bucket list always seems to prevail. So I said to hell with it and finally made the journey. The border crossing was painless, since I waited out the holiday traffic on Saturday and drove over at night, but the border agent was curious why I was crossing so late, to which I replied "because I had things to do" which seemed to satisfy him. Day 1: Wedgemount Lake I slept in my favorite place to boondock around Whistler that night, got up around 6am, and waited in the trailhead parking lot for the next 3 hours while the rain came down on my car's roof. It was actually really cozy and I told myself that even if the rain never cleared up, it felt like a successful trip just to get away from life and read with my phone on airplane mode for a day. However, the rain stopped for about 20 minutes and I decided that was enough to stretch the legs. The goal was Mount Weart, but I figured that was a longshot if the rock was wet. A couple hours and a whole lot of elevation gained later, I was staring at the very Pacific Northwesty scene of Wedgemount Lake and the hut nearby. It hadn't rained on me yet, but that would be shortlived after stopping to take a few photos and continue on toward the toe of the Wedge Glacier. Once the rained started, it would never stop until later that evening. Annoyingly enough, the waterproofing on my rain jacket wasn't working anymore so I bascially just absorbed any moisture to hit me. Stats: 9.2 miles RT, 4600 ft gained
Saw a glow to the north so I confirmed AB with this picture from inside my car
Saw a glow to the north so I confirmed AB with this picture from inside my car
spooky szn
spooky szn
Wedgemount Lake
Wedgemount Lake
Wedgemount Lake
Wedgemount Lake
Wedgemount Lake
Wedgemount Lake
Wedgemount Lake
Wedgemount Lake
Wedge Glacier
Wedge Glacier
Wedgemount Lake
Wedgemount Lake
Day 2: Gentian Peak + Castle Towers Mountain via Helm Creek When I woke up at 4 am Monday, it was again raining and I wasn't hopeful of my prospects, but I decided to stuff down some granola and head to the Cheekamus trailhead. I started hiking about 45 minutes later than I planned but weather seemed promising. The Helm Creek trail is a work of art. After the first mile, it somehow manages to be rock-free, root-free, and the perfect mountain bikers' grade, (despite being a hiking trail) taking you straight into the alpine! A trail-runner's wet dream. As twilight came into view, I saw something dart into the trees and quickly come out of hiding to inquisitively stare at me... A squirrel?? No. A wolverine?? No. ITS A MARTEN! Wow I had never actually seen one in person before. It snarled at me as I refused to leave so long as it was going to watch me. I got my camera out and snapped some photos on the absolute wrong settings. Luckily the marten was still very curious and scared so it kept coming back out to look at me long enough to fix my settings. Amazing!
Day 2-Marten ISO 10,000
Day 2-Marten ISO 10,000
Marten ISO 10,000
Marten ISO 10,000
I kept going and reached the campsite about 5 or 6 miles in around 7 am, where a camper was impressed at my dedication to being up so early. I breezed past there and found my way into the off-trail part past the Cinder Cone and up near the Helm Glacier. Most people bring traction and just walk up the icy crevassed glacier, but I'm more of a chossaineer (plus I didn't have traction) so I chose to climb up the talus field slopes. The terrain around here is quite alien but beautiful at the same time.
First peak at Black Tusk & Helm CG. ISO 10,000 (accident)
First peak at Black Tusk & Helm CG. ISO 10,000 (accident)
Cinder
Cinder
From here, I traversed Gentian ridge with the backdrop of the wondrous Garibaldi Lake, summited Gentian Peak and descended to Gentian Pass, which is straight out of a fairy tale. It's like if Fisher Pass was flanked by the Eldorado icecap and a supersized Jade Lake. But I didn't stop to admire since I knew I would be back in a few hours and continued up the 2 mile long ridge of Castle Towers. Seriously. It's 2 miles of talus and boulders and knife ridges, wrapped up in 2600 ft of elevation gain. The first half isn't too bad, and there are intermittent boot paths to follow, but after dropping to the first notch, the rest of the way up is massive boulder hopping for the last 0.75 miles and 1500 ft. It feels neverending.
Garibaldi
Garibaldi
Helm Glacier and Gentian Peak
Helm Glacier and Gentian Peak
Helm glacier
Helm glacier
From atop Gentian Peak
From atop Gentian Peak
Castle Towers
Castle Towers
Gentian Pass
Gentian Pass
Gentian Pass
Gentian Pass
Gentian Pass
Gentian Pass
Castle Towers Glacier
Castle Towers Glacier
The notch you traverse through
The notch you traverse through
Eventually the summit is near. Or so I thought. when I got to the top of the western summit, it became obvious that this was not the summit, so I dropped down and traversed some loose 4th class stuff over to the middle summit. Once I got up there, my heart sank becaue I was 88.745% sure that the next (eastern) summit was the true summit. It even looked like there was a little summit cairn. I tried to downclimb and traverse, but it was already past time I wanted to turn back to the car and the next traverse would likely add another hour to my day. So I grumpily turned around and told myself it didn't matter that I didn't summit...rabble rabble rabble... (I later confirmed that locals consider the central summit to be the true summit, but it seems unlikely)
Castle Towers Glacier
Castle Towers Glacier
Sphinx, Sentinel, Warren Glaciers
Sphinx, Sentinel, Warren Glaciers
Sphinx Glacier
Sphinx Glacier
1st False summit
1st False summit
On the way back, I took a slightly different route than the inbounds route, where I traveled Polemium ridge to go downhill at a more western part of Gentian Pass and saved myself about 600 ft of climbing by going around the east side of Gentian rather than up and over. From there I traveled back to the lake I had seen earlier in the day and went west of the cinder Cone instead of east to meet back up with the Helm Creek Trail. Here, the camera went back in the pack and I jogged most of the last 7 miles out, getting to the car at about 10 pm and making the long drive back to Seattle for work the next day.
Gentian Pass
Gentian Pass
Black Tusk
Black Tusk
Stats: 25.6 miles, ~10k elevation Castle Towers elevation: 8780 ft which makes it about 4 ft taller than the volcano the park is named after (Mount Garibaldi) Mount Weart and Wedge Mountain are actually the two tallest peaks in the area.

Downhill, meck, rubywrangler, RichP, Slim, Matt, Char May, jaysway, half fast, raising3hikers, Gimpilator, Prosit, Randito, Sculpin, reststep, fourteen410  awilsondc  KascadeFlat
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slabbyd
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slabbyd
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PostTue Sep 13, 2022 8:59 am 
Went up that way 14! years ago. Even then I thought the Helm Glacier was not long for this world. Really looks like its fading fast.

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geyer
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geyer
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PostTue Sep 13, 2022 9:28 am 
slabbyd wrote:
Even then I thought the Helm Glacier was not long for this world.  Really looks like its fading fast.
Wow, it looked way more full then!

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Gimpilator
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Gimpilator
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PostTue Sep 13, 2022 3:51 pm 
Right on! Love this area. Very rare sighting of that Martin. The central summit is accepted as the highest, although by sight, that might be somewhat doubtful as you noted (also my impression). They could be very close, like Buckner. Perhaps we could convince Eric G. to go check it out.

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geyer
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geyer
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PostTue Sep 13, 2022 7:55 pm 
Gimpilator wrote:
The central summit is accepted as the highest
Steven Song told me you also had the same question for him lol.gif

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Matt
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Joined: 30 Jan 2007
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Matt
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PostFri Sep 16, 2022 12:55 am 
Thanks for the beautiful report. Now I definitely want to visit the Gentian and Castle Towers area.

“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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gb
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gb
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PostFri Sep 16, 2022 8:40 am 
slabbyd wrote:
Went up that way 14! years ago. Even then I thought the Helm Glacier was not long for this world. Really looks like its fading fast.
=
When I first visited this area in 1983 to climb Castle Towers N Face, the area of the lake adjacent to Helm Glacier was likely under 300' of ice. I last visited in 2015. On the route from Panorama ridge, we descended and reascended to gain the mid Helm Glacier. It was not even similar to 1983.

Matt, geyer
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