North Castle
North Castle is an officially named bump on a connecting ridge between Castle Peak and Mount Gladstone in the Castle Crown Wilderness of southwest Alberta.  On 17 May 2008, Dinah Kruze and Bob Spirko invited me to join them for an ascent of North Castle via its easy west ridge.  Bob had thoroughly researched the route, and the only fly in the ointment was having to drive up the very rough Castle River Road to access his starting point (determined by GPS).  I had driven up this road last September and never imagined that I would ever come back to give my car's shock absorbers another beating, but having some company this time seemed to make the bumpy drive a little less nerve-racking.  Thankfully, we arrived at Bob's starting point in one piece, and once we geared up, Dinah and Bob both used GPS to guide us efficiently through the forest to the open slopes above.  The ascent went without a hitch, and though we encountered a lot of snow higher up, most of it was supportive enough to walk on.  Views from the partially forested summit were a little anticlimactic compared to those from open slopes we climbed up earlier, but we continued northeast to a couple of lower bumps for some nice close-up views of neighbouring Mount Gladstone.  It would have been nice to extend the ridge walk to a couple of higher unnamed summits to the northwest, but I was suffering from blisters on both of my heels while Dinah was nursing a tweaked knee.  We simply turned around and climbed back over North Castle before retracing our steps all the way back to my car (round-trip time of less than 7 hours).  The drive home was highlighted by Dinah feeling a little queasy as I ripped down Castle River Road, numerous scantily-clad young women cavorting about in the crowded makeshift campsites near the start of the road, getting stopped on the highway by a RCMP alcohol check-stop, dinner at the Subway in Pincher Creek, and seeing a large flock of swans in a pond beside Highway 3.

Be sure to check out Bob's trip report here.
To get here, you'll need a car with good clearance and maybe 4x4 capabilities. This is Bob's starting point for the trip along Castle River Road.
I think that's a part of Barnaby Ridge in the distance. Dinah hikes up an open slope.
Lots of interesting things to see along the way. This dead tree looks as if it is about to topple over Dinah.
Not a scramble! Castle Peak is the eye-catching centerpiece of the entire area.
Thank God, or else this section would have been Hell! The snow is supportive enough to walk on.
Best view of the day! An open slope below the summit of North Castle grants this spectacular view of Windsor Mountain and Castle Peak.
Despite the marred views, this section was actually kinda fun to hike. Dinah and Bob approach the top of North Castle.
Interesting hues. This is Mount Gladstone as seen from the summit of North Castle.
I couldn't dislodge the cornice even after jumping on it a few times! Bob pauses on a cornice to admire the views of Prairie Bluff (left of centre) and Victoria Peak (far right).
Lots of great ridge walking to be had in this area! To the north is a rather innocuous view of Table Mountain.
This one is high on my to-do list! Here is a closer look at Victoria Peak.
Some good hands-on scrambling here! Bob checks out the drop-off before the next bump along the ridge.  Mount Gladstone dominates the background.
That's as far as she went. Dinah stands above the drop-off.
Hard to believe it's an officially named summit! This is a more comprehensive view of the drop-off with North Castle in behind.
Easier than it looks except for one tricky step near the bottom. Bob carefully descends the drop-off while Dinah waits above.
We heard a few avalanches come from this direction throughout the day. Here is another view of Windsor Mountain and Castle Peak.
This would have been more fun to climb if I didn't have any blisters... Bob and Dinah head back up North Castle.
Almost looks like she's doing some serious alpine route! Dinah stands atop the cornice seen earlier.
Might as well get a summit group photo since we're here! Dinah, Bob and Sonny revisit the 2317-metre summit of North Castle.
Maybe some future scramble trips? There are some impressive-looking peaks to the south.
The sun was starting to get unbearably hot.  Thank goodness for the snow and trees. Bob and Dinah head back to Sonny's car.
Or "rabbit ears" as Dinah calls them! Here is a final look at Castle Peak.