Castle Rock

Big Whiteshell Lake, Whiteshell Provincial Park

Despite being easily accessible & well-known by fishermen & the locals, “The Castle” had avoided the attention of climbers until encountered in the darkness during a late-night ski tour in the spring of 2005. Water access from the boat-launch on the south shore 2 km past the provincial campground. The cliff is near the east end of the lake and faces ESE but is not visible from the boat-launch. Cliff co-ordinates Latitude 50.0781°, Longitude. -95.3083°. Allow 45 minutes each way if travelling by canoe. Allow approximately 1.5 hrs if hiking in via Mantario Trail along the N shore of Big Whiteshell Lake (a marker points to Castle Rock).

A provincial wilderness campsite is a short walk or paddle to the west (around the point) at a nearby beach. A waterside cliff to the NE offers interesting features for those considering deep- water-solo, in addition to short ice routes in winter.

There are several horizontal crack planes cleaving this granite outcropping, so most routes are of a wandering nature, with few of the vertical features running continuously from the cliff base to top. An abundance of cracks & features, easily connected by short traverses or ledges, results in a multitude of wandering lines. Climb either using half-ropes and/or multiple short pitches to minimise rope drag or the risk of ledge-falls. Pitons may be required to provide adequate protection or anchors; if you place one please leave it fixed for others to use & avoid further damage to the rock. Same goes for fixed nuts; they’re there for a reason, not “climbing booty”.

Majority of routes to date have been established ground-up without pre-cleaning. Note that the cliff is located within a provincial park & subject to park regulations, so please refrain from bolting or excessive ‘gardening’. There is ample opportunity to establish more difficult lines by fair means. Please use discretion when removing lichen & vegetation; we aren’t the only users to admire this wilderness jewel, so let’s try to minimise our impact in this sensitive area.

Exit Route

Follow the trail from the beach heading west, below the S face of Castle Rock. Stay close to the cliff. The exit route ascends a ramp above the large boulders.

Lady Guinivere’s Crack (5.9+, 30 ft)

On the south face of the very large boulder due south of the exit route. This is an obvious right trending (over-hanging!) jam-crack near the right of the face.
FA Mick Hawley & Roberto Sanchez, Oct 1st 2006.

The Seventh Coming (5.8, 25 ft)

12 feet to the right of Lady Guinevere’s is another crack, slightly easier but still steep and strenuous. The large block behind the route can be used to aid upward progress, the crux is the top-out which was mossy and slippy on the first attempts. The route is short but should not be considered a boulder problem as a fall onto the block at the foot of the climb could be catastrophic.
FA Mick Hawley & Tibor Bodi, July 7th 2007

Un-named Route (5.10c?, 35 ft)

TR Caleb Hull, July 7th 2007

Trial by Fire Ants (5.10b, 35 ft)

Just R of the lowest boulder at start of ER climb. Climb the R facing corner to easier cracks above.
TR Caleb Hull, Brian McMillan, Renee Barclay, Hana Weingartl, July 7th 2007

OFF with their HEADS!! (5.9+, 70 ft)

Starts 10 ft left of the Turret up an obvious zig-zag weakness, just right of the orange streaks staining the wall. Climb thin edges for first 10 ft (crux) to ledge, then easier but sustained flakes & cracks to top. An easier line traverses in along ledge from the right.
TR Brian McMillan, Renee Barclay, Hana Weingartl, Anita Geisel, David Nakonechny July 7th 2007

Rapunzel’s Crack (5.8, 80 ft)

Climb up from the southern entrance to the Dragon’s Lair. Chimney against the Turret. Step across at the fixed pin, & traverse left up the ramp to the base of the crack in the corner. Follow corner crack (5.8) to the top.
FA Brian McMillan & Anita Geisel, May 29th 2005.

Rasputin’s Beard (5.10? Project)

Climb entrance to Dragon’s Lair, but follow cracks up & right from the fixed pin on Rapunzel’s
Crack to the obvious thin crack above.

Turret

Detached Pinnacle adjacent the beach. Several difficult lines are possible on SE face.

Dragon’s Lair

Scramble up behind the Turret. Several possible short cracks on the cliff wall above, or chimney to the top of the Turret. A great place to cool off on a sunny afternoon.

Dungeon

Explore the cave below the Dragon’s Lair. Go ahead. I dare ya!

Dragonslayer (5.8, 30 ft)

10ft left of 3 Blind Mice, climb awkwardly up and into the niche, then layaway facing right up the obvious flake and bridge to the top.
FA Mick Hawley & Steve Young, August 16th 2008.

Three Blind Mice (5.8, 30 ft)

Enter the Dragon’s Lair from the north. Admire the contrasting shades of green guano & moss that paint the walls in muted light as you scramble the blocks to the top. Climb the thin crack in the right facing corner below blocks at top.
FA Brian McMillan & Anita Geisel, August 7th 2005.

The Holy Grail (5.9, 40 ft)

Just left of “Emperor”. Climb to the large ledge above the entrance to the Dragon’s Lair, then traverse right onto the arete.
TR Various ACC members, June 20th 2009.

The Emperor’s New Clothes* (5.10b, 65 ft)

Climb the dihedral just right of N entrance to Dragon’s Lair. Line goes up through the triangular roof.
FA Brian McMillan, Mick Hawley & Roberto Sanchez, October 1st 2006

On a Crusade (5.10c, 65 ft)

Around the corner to the R of New Clothes. Work your way up the dihedral in front of large tree. From the top of detached block, face-climb the slopers in the thin runnels above (crux). Alternate easy route for beginners is to climb the large crack at the bottom instead and once on the block, traverse to the far right.
TR Ken Boyko, July 7th 2007

Cinderella Story (5.10a, 65 ft)

Climb the vertical crack on the wall just left of Welcome to Camalot! Original route was climbed at
5.9+ A0 and rejoined Welcome to Camalot! for the upper section. It’s possible to finish straight above the stacked blocks and crack above on an independent line.
FA Mick Hawley, Roberto Sanchez & Brian McMillan, Sept 30th 2006

Welcome to Camalot! (5.7 65 ft)

This very gruesome R facing corner/offwidth widens as you climb, located about 65 ft left of the end of the boulder-field. Fixed pin at 20 ft. Anchor the belayer out of harm’s way, treat all chockstones with suspicion, & climb delicately near the top. Traverse R to rappel from ledge anchor on Guillotine or Gallows?
FA Brian McMillan & Anita Geisel, August 7th 2005.

The Family Jewels (5.7, 65 ft)

Start as for Welcome to Camalot!. Climb L or R around the overhanging block & follow cracks on the wall to the right of Welcome to Camalot! Traverse R to rappel from ledge anchor on Guillotine or Gallows?
FA Brian McMillan & Anita Geisel, October 15th 2005.

Guillotine or Gallows? * (5.8, 1 or 2 pitches, 100 ft)

P1: Two starts are possible. Either start up Welcome to Camalot!, then traverse right below the first overhang (5.8) to the L facing corner, or climb the face to the same L facing corner (easier but poor protection). Follow the L facing corner straight up, exercising caution while climbing past the sharp notch. Warning: Any appendage caught in the notch during a fall will likely be amputated! Move R several feet on the large ledge above & either belay here at fixed anchor or clip & continue.

P2:Climb the thin corner (5.8) above the fixed anchor. Rappel from fixed nut at top (60 m rope required).
FA Brian McMillan & Anita Geisel, June 25th 2005.

King Nothing (5.8R, 65 ft)

A very sporting route. Climb the slab to below the obvious roof. Note: The first 25’ of this route is unprotected, with a difficult move just below the roof. Move left then follow the rounded crack/flake up & left.
FA Roberto Sanchez, Mick Hawley & Brian McMillan, Sept 30th 2006.

Unlocking the Chastity Belt * (5.8, 60 ft)

30 ft left of the obvious corner marking the end of the boulder-field. Traverse above the water from the rocks on the right to start the climb. Climb vertical flakes & crack. Finish on the treed ledge. Rappel from fixed anchor on Giullotine or Gallows?
FA Brian McMillan & Anita Geisel, June 25th 2005.

King Arthur** (5.10a, 100 ft)

Climb the corner 30 ft right of Chastity Belt, or face immediately left of the corner. Climb parallel runnels above. Move left & up on face (crux), then follow crack to top.
TR Mick Hawley, Roberto Sanchez & Brian McMillan, October 1st 2006.

Sword in the Stone** (5.10a, 100 ft)

Start as for King Arthur, but move right above the parallel runnels. Climb up the bulging face along a series of small ledges & pockets, trending slightly right towards the top.
TR Brian McMillan, Mick Hawley & Roberto Sanchez, Sept 30th 2006.

Court Jester (5.7, 2 pitches, 100 ft)

A lack of courage by the first ascent party produced this wandering route that is not really recommended. the 2nd pitch is probably best done as a mixed climb in winter. It was, however, the first recorded climb at the cliff, so has been included for completeness. The climb starts just right of the Pot of Gold at the most northerly rocks accessible from the beach.

P1: Climb the left facing corner to the small ledge (5.7). Move left to the cliff face & up parallel runnels to large treed ledge. More difficult variations may be possible straight up from P1.

P2: Walk to the left end of the ledge. Use anchor from P2 of Giullotine or Gallows? Ascend the open-book corner to the left. This is often a greasy/mossy grovel. Variations possible, & probably preferrable. The upper pitch of Guillotine or Gallows? (5.8) would provide a more satisfying finish. Rappel Giullotine or Gallows? from fixed gear at top (60 m rope required).

FA Brian McMillan & Anita Geisel, May 15th 2005.

Lady of Shalott (5.8, 110 ft)

A series of short cracks, grooves and corners interspersed with ledges, about 20-30 ft left of P & the P. Start up P & the P to bypass initial 5.10 crack then traverse left. Break into multiple pitches to avoid excessive rope-drag. Harder (or easier) variations are possible depending on the exact line chosen. and size of your fingers! Beware there is a loose triangular block at the very top – strongly advise removing this on rappel before attempting to lead.
FA Brian McMillan & Traci Wright, 2009.

Princess and the Pea (5.4, 110 ft)

Start from a ledge about 60 ft right of the end of the boulder-field. Follow the easiest line up the obvious corner/ crack system and ramble to the top. This route is solid with excellent gear and if you stick to the line a good challenge for it’s grade.
Note: Some ingenuity may be needed to retrieve your boat from the base.

FA Brian McMillan & Keely Gilmore, June 9th 2007.

The Queen’s Knickers* (5.6, 2 pitches, 125 ft)

Get in your boat & float to the N end of Castle Rock, or hike over the top. An elegant line to the top of the Castle. Climb obvious crack cutting straight up the slabs. May be accessed in low water from the N shore via ledges.

P1: Belay from the ramp at the water’s edge. Initial moves are sporting up the short wall. Climb
85 ft to the base of the R facing corner.
P2: Climb the corner crack through the offwidth above (5.6). Descent via slabby ledges to the north.

FA Brian McMillan & Anita Geisel, October 15th 2005.

Neighbouring Cliffs

Half a Kilometer east of Castle Rock is a smaller cliff with potential for lines out of the water. Ice forms on this cliff in the winter, but climbs are south-east facing for the most part, so check for adequate bonding before committing to the thin stuff.

Village Idiot (M4ish, WI3, 60 ft)

Climb delicately up the obvious iced corner & slab at the far left of the cliff, using a combination of thin-ice & rock protection. More sheltered from the sun than the other ice on the cliff.
Subsequent ascent as a pure ice-climb in WI3 conditions.
FA Brian McMillan & Anita Geisel, December 11th , 2005.

Did the Sun Shine in the Dark Ages? (WI3, 50 ft)

Climb any of a number of obvious WI3 flows at the left of the cliff.
FA Brian McMillan & Anita Geisel, December 11th , 2005

Scotch Corner (WI3, 60 ft)

Starting from the lake, climb either side of a large block to a ledge at the base of an ice-filled dihedral.
FA Mick Hawley & Brian Posthumus, Feb 3rd , 2008.