All Locations > International > North America > Canada > Alberta > Banff National Park > Castle Mountain
Avg: 4 from 1 vote
|Type:||Trad, Alpine, 1000 ft, 7 pitches, Grade III|
|FA:||T. Auger, P. Sheehan, C. White|
|Page Views:||386 total, 23/month|
|Shared By:||Tom Gnyra on Jul 30, 2016|
|Admins:||Dave Rone, Tom Gnyra|
DescriptionFreed in 1987, The lower tier of Brewer Buttress hosts one of Castle's best moderate routes: Ultra-Brewers. This rock climb is a full on 5.9 which offers continuous climbing in the 5.8 and 5.9 grade. Only 2 out of 7 pitches feature climbing in the 5.7 range, everything else being above that grade.
From the ground, locate a small off width that reeks of feces with a bolt to the right (very near the ground) and two to the left of the bulge on the off width. This is the first pitch and the only bad one of the day.
Pitch 1 "The Poop pitch": Climb up into the chimney until it becomes an off width and a buldge roof. Clip a bolt and either pull the roof (5.8) or face climb (5.8) to the next bolt. Trend right following the poop-crack to a belay, clip it, and make an airy, unprotected traverse (5.6) to a couple of pins. If rope drag allows, continue up into the unprotected chimney (low 5th, loose) to the bolted belay. If not, belay from the pins (back it up).
Pitch 2 "We've survived": Continue into the loose chimney until you move around the corner. Be wary of rope drag as you move up and clip a bolt. Rock quality starts as mediocre and becomes excellent grey rock typical of rockies limestone. Beautiful edging continues upwards through bolts veering left. Mantle onto the scree ledge and belay from a massive bolted boulder.
Once the second has reached the belay, put away the rope and walk on the well traveled path towards the left. About 20m aways a cairn between two very small trees marks the start of the next pitch.
Pitch 3: Pull a low, loose roof to gain sold rock. Great, 5.8 edging is marred by a lack of protection (PG 13) until reaching a ledge. Move right into the obvious corner and belay at a block with a bolted anchor.
Pitch 4: Climb flaring cracks with marginal protection to a "à cheval" block on top of a pinnacle. Sit on it for a second contemplating why you chose climbing over polo. Make an airy right traverse on good holds aiming for a high tree. Mantle and belay in the enclave that contains the bolt and fiddly-protection crack system (I used a 0.4 X4).
Pitch 5: A much looser version of pitch four continues up and through a wide notch (how we climbed it) or hard right through a grassy corner. Belay below the giant detached pinnacle.
Pitch 6 "The money pitch": Remember when you climbed through the smelly first pitch? Well, consider giving this pitch to the brave soul who lead that. This pitch is the reason you should climb this route! Start going up to the detached pinnacle. Do some wide moves (#4-5 works well here, or clip a rusty pin) and either wrestle the wideness or move to the face. Continue up to the top of the pinnacle. Do not stop! Eye up the impressive rock formation above you and aim for the bolt. 4 bolts with basically no gear between them make up about half of this 40m pitch! Great edging and giant ledge hands gets you to a hanging bolt anchor near a small ledge.
Pitch 7 "Stay gold": Right off the bat you are immediately confronted with some really good 5.8 flaring left corner climbing. The rock quality continues to be good and gear gets much better as it continues on. Trend right under a small roof and make a short traverse to great, easy grey stone. Belay at bolts.
LocationTime from lookout: about 30-45 mins
From the Fire lookout: Catch either a trail going up or one going left. We took the left one.
You will probably see the approach to the midway hut (2016 one bolt and a red piece of duck tape marks the bottom of the last rappel). Continue past this crossing a large drainage.
Continue onwards and cross about 2 more major scree drainages, navigating the best you can. Mostly, there are easy to spot trails on either side to aim for. One has a rockstep that is 3rd class at best.
Continue on for quite a while on a good trail that skirts the edge of the cliff. Watch for bolts. You will come to one really low bolt at about 1 meter and two left of it at about 5 and 8 meters. A wide, smelly crack also is easy to recognize. You should also be able to see "Castles in the Sky" prow to your right. If the trail becomes much less obvious, you have gone too far.
ProtectionCams from smaller than fingers through #4 (#5 if you really want to haul it up for the money pitch). Slings to thread pins if you trust that sort of gear. About 5 quickdraws for the bolts.
If you want to double up gear: go for more in the 0.3-.75 range. Extra #1 or #2 are optional and more or less useful.
Most anchors are really good bolts and so bring whatever you want for that. Two ropes lets you easily bail off this route if weather hits.
Getting downOnce you top out, either keep going up to Brewer Buttress or walk climber's left towards the hut.
If you are at the hut, keep going left and follow cairns down to the base of the cliff.
If you decided to keep going to the top, either exit via the decent gully (second huge gully, pretty far (about 20-30 mins walking) and do the rappels. I'd consider picking up Banff Rock as the pictures are much more detailed in that book.