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Drywood Mountain

Summit Elevation (m): 2514
Elevation Gain (m): 950
Round Trip Time (hr): 5
Total Trip Distance (km): 10
Quick ‘n Easy Rating: Class 3 – You fall you break something
Difficulty Notes: Some route finding and moderate scrambling in the gully.
GPS Track DownloadDownload GPX File
Technical Rating: SC6; YDS (3rd)
MapGoogle Maps


After a night of t-storms and rain I decided to sleep in and hang around camp for a while before attempting Drywood Mountain. I started up the road on my bike at around 10:30, hoping the rock would be dry in the ascent gully. At around 11:00 I was near the place indicated by Nugara, the only problem being the multitude of gullies! Actually there are really only two candidates and after almost 30 minutes of fussing around I decided to take the one closest to the end of the road and the nearest to the start of the Bovine Lake trail. This was a good choice on hindsight.

Drywood Mountain Route Map

(To save you the same choice headache, go along the trail until a small drainage intersects it. The drainage is only two feet wide – its small and doesn’t impact the trail at all. If you go down a slight hill and then cross a wider drainage that impacts the trail you’ve gone too far. Reverse your track about 100 meters. This all takes place quite soon after leaving the parking area at the end of the road.)

Soon after starting down this smaller track you should be at the correct drainage (to the right).
Which drainage?! The left one looks bigger but the right one looks easier. I ended up choosing the right hand one and it is the correct (Nugara) gully.

The drainage didn’t look like moderate scrambling from the trail and since I wasn’t 100% sure it was the right one I was on my guard the whole way up. (I should also point out that there were no cairns or markers on route – only some battered flagging very high up near the summit ridge. I put up cairns to assist my descent but they probably won’t last long in that drainage.) I accessed the drainage on climbers right, then went up steeper terrain on the right and angled into the drainage bottom. The scrambling was delightful on solid (and dry) rock. I never encountered difficult terrain until the band that Nugara mentions. I easily avoided it on climbers left – there was no water in late September.

After the rock band your route finding will determine how much fun or fear you have! 😉 I angled up past some trees on climbers left and eventually the terrain guided me hard left. I then crossed several gullies before a final steep scramble up onto the summit scree field. I kind of followed my nose and got lucky – the key is finding a way across the gullies on the south side of the mountain without going too high or too low.

Pincher Ridge is across Drywood Creek to the NE. Victoria Peak and Ridge are hidden in cloud beyond.
Heading down. This is looking west, I have to cut a hard left to cross to my ascent gully.

A trudge up loose scree brought me to the false summit. From there it’s a moderately exposed traverse east to the true summit – complete with a wind wall and survey marker. There were thick clouds all around me, especially to the south and west but there wasn’t a breath of wind! Very unusual for the Castle – I’ve been lucky the last three days! The views towards Pincher Ridge and north were awesome with reds, yellows, blues and white clouds. Two picas kept me company while I snacked. After calling Hanneke to let her know I was ok and sending a text photo to Wietse to make him jealous I started down. The descent was straightforward but thank goodness for the cairns I’d left or I’d probably still be up there!

I know there’s a route up this peak so the SE of Drywood, I can see it on Gaia GPS but I don’t know what it’s called.

A very enjoyable scramble, Drywood is short and sweet. I took under 5 hours and that included finding the route and taking a long break on the summit. Highly recommended for those who don’t mind doing some of their own route-finding.

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