Whistler Mountain And Lookout
With an exceptional weather forecast on 12 June 2010, Kelly Bou and I headed to the Castle Wilderness area of southwest Alberta to climb Whistler Mountain via the easy lookout trail as described in Mike Potter's Fire Lookout Hikes in the Canadian Rockies.  The crux of the trip likely was getting to and finding the actual trailhead.  Firstly, we were delayed at the hamlet of Beaver Mines by a herd of cattle stampeding right on the highway.  Secondly, the Castle River road seems to be progressively deteriorating every time I return to the area, and given the increased number of mud holes we encountered (not to mention the intimidating ford near the beginning which was nearly a show-stopper), I may be inclined to invest in an ATV before I ever drive this road again.  In any case, we found the unmarked trailhead exactly as described by Potter and had no difficulties hiking up the trail to a broad saddle separating the lookout site from a slightly higher bump.  Saving the lookout for our return trip, we hiked up the slightly higher bump and were surprised to find a large white PVC canister at the top.

According to the old NTS map (see Bob Spirko's report) printed in 1977, the summit of Whistler Mountain should have been the next bump to the southeast.  To add to the confusion, the map in "The Castle Special Management Area" brochure which I was carrying marks Whistler Mountain's summit as the even higher point to the east of the next bump.  However, the brochure's figure of 2167 metres for the summit does not really make sense for that higher point which is at least over 2256 metres.  Both Garmin's TOPO Canada (which I use for my GPS) and Natural Resources Canada's Toporama maps show Whistler Mountain's summit as the same one where we found the PVC canister.

Unfortunately, Kelly and I were unable to open the canister, and because I had neglected to load the actual map of the area into my GPS, I could only assume that the brochure map was correct and that we were still far removed from the summit of Whistler Mountain.  Due to a late start, the growing heat, and a party to attend in Calgary, we were not overly motivated to continue on to the higher point or even the next bump.  Instead, we backtracked to the saddle and hiked up to the lookout before returning all the way to my car (a little more than 5 hours round-trip at an extremely leisurely pace).  The drive out the Castle River road was just as rough as the drive in, but after getting across the intimidating ford, we breathed a little easier and had no issues with cattle on our way to the aforementioned party.

It was not until the next day that I discovered all the controversy surrounding the true summit of Whistler Mountain.  Regardless, the unnamed ridges beyond definitely warrant a return soon as I buy an ATV!
Moooooooooove over!!!! A herd of cattle block the highway near Beaver Mines.
Photo courtesy of Kelly Bou
We saw lots of bear scat on this trail. Kelly hikes up the trail to Whistler Lookout.  Lys Ridge dominates the view with Jutland Mountain visible at distant left.
Looks like it can be scrambled, but the approach is very long. This is a close-up view of Jutland Mountain.
The dead trees look like they're sprouting new leaves, but it's actually just moss. Kelly checks out some of the interesting deadwood on the ridge.
Can you spot Kelly? This is Whistler Lookout (right) as seen from the connecting ridge to Whistler Mountain.
I still can't believe this is the official summit!! Kelly takes the last few steps before the summit of Whistler Mountain.
The lid was stuck on so tight we weren't even sure which end to open. Kelly holds up the register canister on the disputed 2201-metre summit of Whistler Mountain.
An easy walk. Kelly hikes toward the top of the lookout.
Some of the unnamed ridges in between look very inviting. This is looking back at the connecting ridge to Whistler Mountain (left).  Castle Peak is visible at distant right.
Definitely much more scenic than Whistler Mountain's summit. Kelly and Sonny stand on top of Whistler Lookout (2169 metres).
Probably not a scramble, but I'd like to give it a try someday. Castle Peak is the centerpiece of the entire area.
A traverse between Table and Whistler would make a fine outing. Table Mountain is visible to the northeast.
Boy, it sure would have been nice to jump in that lake today! The view to the north is highlighted by Beaver Mines Lake and snowy Centre Peak on the horizon at left.
On my to-do list this year... Here is a closer look at Centre Peak.
What an absolutely beautiful day in the mountains! The concrete foundation is all that is left of the former lookout building.
Kelly and I both picked up quite a few of these critters on this day. It is the height of tick season!
The heat was starting to get unbearable at this time of day. Kelly descends a steep section of the trail.
Just experimenting with my GPS data! This is the route as viewed in Google Earth.
825 metres elevation gain from "CAR" to "WHISTLER MOUNTAIN". Total Distance:  7.9 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  5 hours 11 minutes
Total Elevation Gain:  877 metres

GPX Data