Helena Ridge

Elevation: 2862 m
Elevation Gain: 1400 m
Helena Ridge was named for Helena Walcott – the wife of geologist Donald Walcott. Walcott spent many years studying geology in the Rockies, highlighted by his discovery of the Burgess Shale. Walcott enjoyed spending time on the Castle Mountain massif and named two of its features after his family (Helena Ridge for his wife and Stuart Knob for his son).
My Ascents:
October 13 2011

I’m just a sucker for punishment...and the hike into Rockbound Lake is just that – punishment. After making the journey up the uninspiring fire road last October only to be turned back by a meter of snow and white-out conditions, I returned earlier this summer to bag Castle Mountain and Stuart Knob. Although I wanted to bag Helena Ridge at that time, time constraints (and exhaustion in the summer heat) prevented me from doing so. And so I returned to the scene of the crime to finish the job – sort of (I think I’ll tackle TV Peak by the alternate mine trail approach just to avoid the hike to Rockbound Lake)!

About 7 km in and 700 m above the car, I’m treated to the first views of my first views of the objective. Come to think of it, these are pretty much the first views of any kind on this forested fire road!

The last of the season's golden larches at Tower Lake.

Quickly gaining elevation over a snowy Rockbound Lake.

A splash of sun on Tower Lake at the base of the Eisenhower Tower. Pilot Mountain in the distance.

About 300 m above the lake, the temperature became bitterly cold. Here my watch is reading the temperature as 3.3 C...this despite the fact that it's on my wrist and picks up body heat. I had never seen the thermometer on the watch plummet so low. Until a few minutes later, that is, when it bottomed out at 1.3 C. Fortunately, the summit was bathed in sun and significantly warmer!

The route up Helena from Rockbound is reasonably obvious (read: scree grunt) and combined with the cold wind, the camera ended up tucked away until the summit where I was treated to this beautiful view of Castle Mountain!

Higher than Castle Mountain. Who's the king of the castle now?

Looking down the 5 km length of Helena Ridge back towards Banff.

Mount Rundle in the distance beyond the ridge.

The summit of Cascade Mountain in the distance.

More Banff landmarks: Pilot Mountain in the foreground. Mount Bourgeau behind to the left and Mount Brett to the right.

Castle Mountain and the two lakes (Tower and Rockbound) trapped behind it.

High above the snowy open plateau of the Castle massif. Mount Ball, Storm Mountain, Stanley Peak, Mount Whymper and Mount Bell beyond.

Interesting geology.

The other peaks of the Castle massif. Stuart Knob on the left and my only remaining Castle Peak, TV Peak on the right. A cloudy, snowy Mount Temple in the background on the left.

Hidden valley north of Castle and Helena.

Clouds hanging on the divide peaks beyond Castle Mountain. The Valley of the Ten Peaks can be seen on the right.

The highest of the ten peaks, Deltaform Mountain flirting with the clouds.

Looking south to Kootenay National Park.

Storm Mountain living up to its name. Stanley Peak behind to the right.

Remote ranges to the northeast.

Noetic and Mystic Peaks soak up the sun to the northeast.

I'm on the summit. It's 2:30 pm and I have 11.5 km and 1400 m elevation to lose before getting to the car. Then, I have over a 160 km drive to get home. Puck drops on the Flames - Habs game at 5:30 pm. Will I make it in time?

One last wintery view before heading down.

Another Kane original register. Unfortunately this one was frozen shut and I forgot my vice grip at home. Sigh.

A colorful tarn below the Helena Ridge col. It doesn't appear on maps and somehow I missed it on my way up.

Ice taking over as winter encroaches on my scrambling seasaon
Epilogue: After running down the entire scramble, I made it home to Calgary with 10 minutes left in the first period...Go Flames go!