Castle Peak
October 3, 2004

I'd tried to climb Castle Peak just east of Mowich Lake two previous times unsuccessfully. It's a small bump, and it shouldn't have given me any problems, but I was back for a rematch, and this time I stood on top.

My first attempt stopped short of the named summit - my climbing partner and I correctly found the traverse over towards Castle from just north of Knapsack Pass. The traverse involves crossing a dirty gully, then scrambling along the top of a rocky ridge - really fun and easy rock! After you get off of the rock, you're on a gently rolling hill to the high point of the ridge. We surprised a herd of mountain goats that day, and relaxed and enjoyed some sunshine, obviously on the high point of the ridge. The high point must be the peak, right? Wrong! Once we returned to the cas we looked at the map (hmmm - why hadn't we done that while we were up in the hills?) and saw that Castle Peak is actually the eastern end of the ridge, and not the high point - go figure!

My second attempt came at the end of a wonderful day where my climbing partner and I had started at Mowich Lake and then stood on top of Faye, Pleasant, Hessong and Mother. The plan was to continue around and finish with Castle. We did the traverse and scramble and then hiked up and over the high point on the ridge. All that was left was a simple traverse over to the chunk of rock that was the Castle summit when the mosquitoes descended! I'm not sure I've ever been in worse hordes of them! At one point I yelled to my partner to head into the densest brush she could find so we could scrape them off of us with the branches! I think I knew at that point that hiking up to any summit wasn't going to happen. Shortly after that we agreed to head down, and instead of retracing our path back to Knapsack Pass we just headed straight downhill towards the north end of Mowich Lake. There are some pretty steep grassy meadows along that route, but we both agreed it would make a quick ascent the next time we tried.

Well, I finally got another chance. We parked at Mowich Lake early in the morning, walked the trail around the lake to the north end, and headed cross country and up the steep slopes we remembered coming down.

No mosquitoes at this time of the year made following the boot path around the false Castle summit easy and pleasant.

From there the west end of Castle was staring us in the face. It looks pretty imposing, but there's an easy boot path up just north of the main west ridge.

From there we just meandered around over to the east end which is labeled as the true summit. It's obviously lower than the west end, so we headed back over along the ridge, with my partner Shella catching the moon in her hand as she walked the ridge above me!

The hike went much more quickly than we expected, and we were rewarded with an extra long pseudo-summit hang on a beautiful warm fall day with Mt. Rainier looking stunning!

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