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Castle Mountain

Leslie van de Ligt

Sherwood Park, Canada

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A favorite sight for photographers and tourists alike Castle Mountain overlooks the TransCanada Highway and is a beautiful mountain to view. The day we were there we were fighting smoke from northern forest fires but I was able to get a shot in as the smoke drifted away for a brief space of time although it prevented the sun from shining brightly .Featured In The Group “The World As We See It Or As We Missed It” July, 2011.

Rebel XSI, Lens Canon 100 – 400mm
Canmore/Banff Area, Alberta, Canada

From The Internet on Canadian Rockie Mountain Peaks:

The resemblance to Cyclopean masonry has doubtless suggested the name, for it is marked by huge masses of castellated-looking work, with turreted flanks."

One of the most imposing peaks in the Bow Valley, the bold, castellated southwest front of the mountain dominates the view for much of the journey from Banff to Lake Louise, its bulk, prominent position as noted by Hector, and reddish color combining to make this a favorite of many who pass this way.

Two levels of steep cliffs form the “castle” part of Castle Mountain. The ledge between is the Stephen Formation which correlates westward to the rocks that contain the Burgess Shale fossils in Yoho National Park.

Despite the appropriateness of Dr. Hector’s name and the fact that it had been used for almost one hundred years, the mountain was renamed Mount Eisenhower in 1946 in honour of American General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during the final year of World War II.

The decision to rename Castle Mountain was made by Prime Minister Mackenzie-King on the day before the President was to pay a visit to Ottawa. As much as Eisenhower was respected, this arbitrary decision so enraged the Alberta government that it immediately formed its own geographical names board. It took thirty-three years and an Albertan as Prime Minister before Castle Mountain regained its original name in 1979. As a compromise, the prominent tower on the southern end of the mountain was given the name Eisenhower Peak.

After naming the mountain, James Hector made a side-trip, climbing through the forest and passed, “. . .round to the north side of the mountain, and found that a deep valley separated it from a lower spur composed of splintery shale of a dull red colour.” This was the valley that contains Rockbound Lake, the high ridge to the north being Helena Ridge.

After visiting the Selkirks in 1884, Arthur Coleman stopped below Castle Mountain. From there he ascended to camp in “the beautiful Horseshoe Valley behind the Castle” from which he made the first ascent of the mountain.

Coleman wrote, “Some of the climbing was quite risky work, since the projecting knobs of rock were often loose, and gave way under the hand or foot. Above the edge of the cliff, however, going was easy, so that the highest part of the Castle (nine thousand feet) was not hard to reach, and the wonderful view of the valley of Bow River, four thousand feet below, was quite worth seeing. The tower standing in front of the Castle to the south-east looked as unscaleable as it was reported to be.”

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