This is a 5000'+/- ascent day.
From the parking area, proceed up Rockbound Lake Trail to its terminus at Rockbound Lake (9 kilometers). You will bypass Tower Lake on your left. This whole area becomes an incredible setting below the Castle Mountain Massif
Flank Rockbound lake to the southeast. In winter conditions it can be difficult to determine where to cross the lake at the southeast corner depending on the frozen condition of the lake. Proceed with caution. I chose climbers left up an obvious snow filled gully that leads up to a natural bench above Rockbound Lake to the east. An alpine ax could be helpful in a place or two as you ascend.
If you have done a summer scramble to Stuart Knob
or Castle Mountain, it is the same path you are following to a high point above the northeast corner of Rockbound Lake. After you ascend this small slope, Helena Ridge will come into full view to your right. It is well protected on its western flank by steep cliffs. There is an obvious large break in the ridge that leads to an extremely windblown col. To avoid avalanche concerns, we strapped on crampons and ascended the ice laden scree on climbers right to this col.
Once at the col, turn left and ascend a somewhat steep broad slope to a summit. The actual summit cairn is a few meters hike "down" from the high point on the ridge. There was a summit register in place in 2005. Hoar frost covered this entire exposed ridge, but most snow had been blown off.
On descent, I noticed that the snow depth was minimal at the col due to westerly winds blowing it up and over the ridge. I chose the fast glissade descent, staying skiers right in the snow filled gully. I eventually penetrated a slab approximately 3/4 of the way down and a large wind blown slab arched and fractured above me (photo), therefore I jumped immediately to the rock croppings to my right and descended the rocks and traversed the snow slope back east at a lower elevation. The descent back down to the lake can be the crux of this objective in winter (photo). Critique snow conditions above Rockbound Lake at all times on your ascent and descent.
Winter- Alpine Ax, Snowshoes or Alpine Skies, Poles, Compass, Map, crampons, Warm Mitts and Clothes, Goggles, Gaiters, etc.
External LinksParks Canada
Canadian Avalanche Association
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