ApproachThis is a 6400’+/- (total) ascent day
. It only makes sense for those serious in the sport to combine Stuart Knob and Television Peak for a long traverse. However, the descent on Television Peak at the end of the day borders on difficult status relative to route finding and down climbing confidence. The traverse will also place you 13kms north on the Bow Valley Parkway from whence you began.
From the parking area, proceed up Rockbound Lake Trail to its terminus at Rockbound Lake (9kms). You will bypass Tower Lake on your left. This whole area becomes an incredible setting below the Castle Mountain
Flank the lake to the east and ascend the tree covered east side below Helena Ridge. There was a cairn as well as a decent trail to follow up this steep terrain in 2004. Once on a horizontal ledge, start your trek northward and up onto a rocky plateau above the lake at 8000'+. I enjoyed the company of three large rams (photo) in this isolated terrain. Continue due north for the left corner of Stuart Knob which is a far north extension of the Castle massif itself. Angle your way below Stuart Knob up towards the left corner of the summit block and start ascending the west ridge. The west ridge is enjoyable hands on climbing however beware of ice during colder conditions. It is a wind blown summit block with no surrounding peaks offering protection.
There was a register in 2004 and the 360 degree exposed view is tremendous. It took me a fast 4.5 hours to reach this summit.
Proceed north along a broad ridge up and over the first hump and then angle westward for a notch in the northeastern corniced ridge of Television Peak. You will notice the repeater station towers of the summit reflecting the sun (on a sunny day). By angling westward early, you can avoid the elevation gain and loss of the last bump on the north extending ridge between the two mountains.
You will find the hiking along the black shale pleasant going. Traverse over to the notch (where I crossed paths with a mountain lion-photo) and ascend leftward along the summit ridge to Television Peak. This will be a 1000' hump. Beware of the cornices early or late in the season. This is a northeastern ridge and thus I was post holing much of the way in October.
On the summit, you will find an equipment bunker, not unlike Mount Stephen's
weather station, kept warm and water stored for emergencies. This is a broad summit with a summit register and views abound at approximately 10,000' including, but not limited to Mount Bell
, Mount Temple
, Storm Mountain
, Copper Mountain
, Pilot Mountain
and Mount Ishbel
Now comes the crux of the traverse- route finding and down climbing 5000' on the southwestern side of Television Peak.
Although the original look or two can appear harrowing, I rather enjoyed this challenge, particularly the quality of rock I encountered. I kept southwest, moving to my left, down climbing some solid rock until I dropped into a drainage gully that led into tree line practically all the way down the mountain. I broke my hand in this drainage on a ridiculous fall, but otherwise, this is a pleasant descent. Follow your compass due west and you will emerge from the jungle at Protection Mountain Campground some 13 km from the Rockbound Lake trail head. I suggest that you park your bike here to begin with or take your chances with thumbing it or enjoy the long walk back under clear skis and a full moon as I did. It took me over nine hours (fast paced) to complete the traverse, not including the 13kms back via the road.
Compass, Bear Spray, Helmet, Alpine Ax, Gaiters, Significant Water, Solid Wind Layer (Stuart Knob is exposed) and Possibly a Bike depending on your plan