Another big day in the mountains of Strathcona: Castle Crag Mtn., Mt. Frink and Mt. Albert Edward

View back from the south flank of Mount ALbert Edward - I came around from the left, across the back of Castle Crag (the mountain on the extreme left), then summited Mt. Frink, then took the ridgeline down and to the left of it and back to Albert Ed.

View back from the south flank of Mount Albert Edward – I came around from the left, across the back of Castle Crag (the mountain on the extreme left), then summited Mt. Frink (centre), then took the ridgeline down and to the left of it and back to Albert Ed.

Well, the previous week I’d run/hiked to the top of Mt. Albert Edward and back – a total distance of around 32 km. I had considered adding on the side-loop that would go over Castle Crag Mountain and Mount Frink as well – but after receiving some advice that the navigation was pretty tough on this loop, I decided to bypyass it. That day. But this week, I was back!

Other than this first shot, all the pix were taken on my phone, so they are not that great. And then my phone died before I made my first summit. Stupid thing. Anyway, the pix still give a good idea of how my day went… (which is, very well!)

Got a decent morning start - here are first views of Albert Edward.

Got a decent morning start – here are first views of Albert Edward, behind me.

View of the day's route. Wow, it looks long. And high.

View of the day’s route. Wow, it looks long. And high.

Wow, mountains look really big from far away! You can see much of today’s route in this shot. I’d be going straight ahead from here, then around to the left (out of the photo) first in front of and then around the back side of Castle Crag Mtn (the dark one on the far left of the pic). Then along that first ridge that is kind of behind a tree, then up the summit of Mt. Frink – the rounded peak left of centre. Then down Mt. Frink via the ridge, continuing to the right, past that snow patch, and back up on to Albert Edward’s eastern ridge (behind the tree in the centre of the photo), bypassing the summit of Al-Ed, but traversing the ridgeline in front of that summit to the low point (in front of the next snow patch) then descending and returning via the same trail I’m on in this photo. I haven’t measured it, but I think it’s something like 35 km.

Imade it to Circlet Lake, 10 km in, in 2 hours. You continue on the main trail to Mt. Edward - this is where I turned off to the left to do the Castle Crag loop.

I made it to Circlet Lake, 10 km in, in 2 hours. You can continue on the main trail to Mt. Edward – but this is where I turned off to the left to do the Castle Crag loop. Which is noted on the map as a “route” not a “trail.”

The

The “duck pond” by Circlet Lake – very pretty in the stillness of morning.

And this is Moat Lake. (Get it? The moat in front of the castle crag?). Albert Edward is the big ridge straight ahead (that I'll be returning along) and Castle Crag is the castellated craggy one on the far left.

And this is Moat Lake. (Get it? The moat in front of the castle crag?). Albert Edward is the big ridge straight ahead (that I’ll be returning along) and Castle Crag is the castellated craggy one on the far left.

Now I've gone most of the way around Castle Crag, around its east side... am approaching it along its south flank. The going was quite rough in some places, and there was a huge landslide (boulder field) that I had to pick my way across. Slow going, not very runnable.

Now I’ve gone most of the way around Castle Crag, around its east side… am approaching it along its south flank. The going was quite rough in some places, and there was a huge landslide (boulder field) that I had to pick my way across. Slow going, not very runnable.

I had been hoping to summit both Castle Crag and Frink. You go up via Castle Crag via a side trail - and this is what it looked like. Not a trail at all, very loose steep rock (not scree, bedrock - but steep and actively eroding bedrock). I decided that this was not the smarted thing to do while alone, with the toughest navigational section still ahead of me. So I left it for next time. Because there WILL be a next time!

I had been hoping to summit both Castle Crag and Frink. You go up via Castle Crag via a side trail – and this is what it looked like. Not a “trail” at all, very loose steep rock (not scree, bedrock – but steep and actively eroding very unsttable bedrock). I decided that this was not the smartest thing to do while alone, with the toughest navigational section still ahead of me. So I left it for next time. Because there WILL be a next time!

And that’s when my phone died! I had charged it the night before, and had it on power-saving. Apparently they use more juice at altitude? I don’t know, I should have just carried a camera, and got better pictures – for the whole route.

So anyway, from Castle Crag I followed a ridgeline and worked my way up Mt. Frink. Navigating the ridge was mostly easy… but then as you go up the flanks of Mt. Frink it gets harder to know where to go – some cairns, and lots of places with no navigational signs in between: over rock, talus, alpine meadow. At one point I was just considering turning back and retracing my steps to get out, when I came across a weathered wooden sign saying “Keep going.” Phew, finally some guidance – so I did!

Mount Frink is really open, so then you just kind of wander up the scree slopes, trying to pick which of the summits is the “real” summit (there always seems to be one over there that is a bit higher than the one you are on). I finally got it, and had good views towards Albert Edward and the route I would need to take to get there. I was REALLY glad I had been on that ridgeline only a week before, so even if there were no route markers at all I knew what I was aiming for – and, once there, how to get back.

There was a bit of a hairy descent from Mt. Frink – I now know to keep left, or you get cliffed out! – but then I made it across to the fairly open ridgeline, with great visibility. And I ended up rejoining the Mt. Albert Edward trail at EXACTLY the place I wanted to – so I was very pleased with that! From there, it was just another four hours or so to get back to the car. All in all, the whole trip took 9.5 hours – mostly power-hiking with a bit of running. A very enjoyable training day! And here’s a link to the Strathcona Provincial Park Forbidden Plateau trails map that shows these routes.

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