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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2016-11-19||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Myself and a partner did the Castle/Conundrum Combo in reverse. Climbing up the couloir to reach the saddle by Conundrum needed crampons and an axe, as well as a snowfield before the upper portion of the basin. On the ridge that goes from the basin to Castle Peak, snow was a bit lighter and no traction was needed, although the trail portion from 13,000-13,600' was icy and spikes could help. From the creek crossing, the road was passable but very icy in spots. 4wd, snow tires and high clearance absolutely mandatory. Hiking up the road from wherever you leave your car wasn't bad, as the road/trail up to the basin had very little snow/ice, but the sections that did only required spikes.
|2016-11-19||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Only went a mile or two past treeline, not quite to the basin. But I thought this might help some people out anyways. Managed to get my Outback all the way to the creek crossing, and honestly it was so low I probably could have gone through it but didn't. I saw a Volvo parked just after the turn-off for Pearl Pass Road (Woah, props to you, driver!). The road up to the creek had snow, but only about an inch or two. Road up to the turn off for Pearl Pass was variable snow, an inch or two as well. After that there was a long stretch of ice that no recent cars had attempted (a lot more of the lower stuff is probably ice now after these warmer days too). But after that, the road all the way up to the basin was almost snow-free. almost depressing how dry it was. Microspikes would be nice right now, no floatation needed, but I'm not sure about in the basin itself.
|2016-10-30||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Lots of snow from the point of the boulder field to the summits. You will need microspikes. It began snowing right before the switchbacks up to the Castle Summit. It was very windy and we had complete white out conditions on the first summit of Castle. It cleared up after that for the rest of the day. We are definitely moving towards Winter! Here's a video trip report I made for everyone - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9AbQOmIa6g
|2016-10-29||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: The route after the road (at 12,800) wasn't obvious to me. It was filled with too much snow for me to navigate. Two other groups got turned around also. The upper trail looked clear.
|2016-10-15||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: There is a decent amount of snow in the bowl heading up to the northeast ridge. The worst part is getting to the upper basin, but there was a decent amount of people out there today so at least a trail is likely now present. The northeast ridge has snow on and off 4-6 inches maybe. I would recommend microspikes at the most, although it could probably be done in boots. I used ice axe a little bit, mostly to stabilize from the wind (no trekking poles). I did not glissade down the saddle from conumdrum, but there was a set of foot tracks present who did. I parked about .2 miles from the pearl pass junction or upper trail head. As mentioned there is a steep section of ice/snow, but a truck did make it up to the upper trail head. Several groups likely reached summit today, so get while the conditions are good.
|2016-09-25||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Left the lower TH at about 5am. Snow started on the road at about 12000'. Beautiful sunrise with low clouds in the valley and snow-capped peaks. By the end of the road, there was about 6 inches of snow. Snow got deeper the higher we went with about a foot at the ridge. It was very cold with temps in the low 20s as we ascended to the ridge in its shadow. No wind the entire day however. As we scrambled up the ridge, the snow was too slippery and risky for us without traction, so we turned around. With microspikes, the summit is definitely attainable. No flotation necessary. The snow below 12500' was quickly melting on our way down around 11am. Beautiful day, but beware that there is a significant amount of snow up there.
|2016-09-23||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Snuck up Castle this am and summited about 8:00 am. Snow started about 8:10. Slick getting down to the saddle and up Conundrum and back to saddle for descent into the basin. Spikes were vital.
|2016-08-27||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: No snow up to 12,800'. In the morning there was snow on the talus from the end of the road up to the basin, but it melted by afternoon. About a foot or more of packed snow on the trail from the basin to to summit ridge. Microspikes were helpful on this section. There was sporadic snow on the summit ridge and final pitch that made some of the moves treacherous.
|2016-08-24||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Started from lowest carpark (end of bitumen road), as we had a 2WD rental. We got to the boulder field/basin below the summit to find 1-2 inches of new snow. Two other parties were in front of us. Both turned back along the ridge where it gets rough and exposed. We ended up doing the same. There was just too much ice and snow, making it really unsafe without crampons and none of the 3 parties had them. Night-time snow can melt the basin rocks during the day, but that south ridge edge doesn't get direct midday sun. It's been partially melting each day into ice that's getting overlain with new snow each day this week, I think.
|2016-08-20||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: We parked at the very bottom of the trailhead (first parking lot) and it took us 8 hours RT. A 2WD car will not make it far and there were quite a few 4WD cars parked before the Pearl Pass/Castle Creek junction. On the route: the rock towards the top was a tad slippery due to some snow the night before. I would actually have called this class 3 climbing but I also just went straight up and made no effort to route find. I would recommend bringing a helmet for the descent on the saddle between Castle and Conundrum. The rock is very loose and every step disrupts the dirt/rock and sends it down the saddle. If there is a party above you they'll be shooting rocks down your way.
|2016-07-28||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Hiked in from lower TH. Took about 10 hours round trip. Only snow on the route was on my decent of the Castle-Conundrum saddle. But, catch is the snow is only on the lower half of that descent. Like walking on ball bearings before I reached the snow. Looks like most other hikers who did the two peaks chose to go back up Castle again and take the long way around. That's not a bad idea! Definitely quicker the way I came down but not fun.
|2016-07-24||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Almost entirely dry for the entire Castle/Conundrum route. The descent from the conundrum/Castle saddle has melted out a lot. Not much steep snow left, and the what is left of the glissade path is filled with lots of rather large and sharp rocks. Which I found out the hard way. We went up hopeful to get a quick descent, but at this point the dropping from the saddle to the basin was probably the toughest/most annoying part of the day. Plan on dealing with a good amount of loose dirt and rocks.
|2016-07-24||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Didn't take a picture of it, but probably the last weekend to glissade off the saddle. Snoe coverage was thin and contained many rocks just below the surface. Otherwise peaks are in prime summer condition.
|2016-07-16||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: The Montezuma road is clear of snow all the way to the 4x4 parking. It is possible to summit without ever touching snow. The snow that is there is like concrete and has a lot of dirt and rock on top of it. No traction required. The trail to Conundrum is also clear of snow. The saddle coming down from Castle and Conundrum is still filled with Snow and made a great slide down couloir
|2016-07-08||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: There is snow from about 12,800 to the upper basin. Microspikes are recommended, but it's possible to get by without them. Castle's Northeast Ridge is dry from the upper basin to the summit. North face couloir on Castle is entirely melted out. Conundrum couloir is still in, but conditions look very rough. We saw four skiers descend the couloir, and afterwards they said it was really choppy and had lots of ruts from the melt/freeze cycle. The Castle/Conundrum descent from the saddle requires a short walk down on loose dirt and sporadic snow before reaching a section where the route necks down above the large continuous snowfield. Ice ax is needed if descending from the saddle. Otherwise I highly recommend resummiting Castle. We were able to glissade nearly the entire slope.
|2016-07-07||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: There are plenty of reports here to get an idea of the conditions, but I wanted to add a word of caution to someone reading these before you go. I read the last few years of reports, and everything leading up to the day I tried to climb (July 7th) and read all the posts that say you didn't need traction or an axe. That's just wasn't true if you wanted to be safe. Just past the end of the road where you climb up into the basin around 12,500ft, you could scamper over very sketchy avalanche debri that you could actually hear shifting underneath you by 9:30am, or climb up the 400ft bank of snow. No, you wouldn't die if you slipped in the snow but anytime people say you can glissade down that means that going *up* will require an axe and crampons or yak trax at a minimum. Otherwise yes you could slip and slide all the way down. I watched 4 experienced climbers slowly pick their way up the scree field left of the snow bank and it took them an hour to climb a few hundred feet. Maybe it's changed in the last 2 weeks, but in my opinion the safest and easiest way up was the snow bank with some traction and an axe.
|2016-07-05||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: The first creek crossing was not very high and I was able to park my Jeep Compass 100 yards after the foot bridge just before the fork of montezuma basin (right) and pearl pass road (left) . I was at the end of the road by 530am snffi made my way into the basin of castle and conundrum. It was early so I never post holed once and the route became snow free as soon as you start climbing up on yo the ridge. I summited at 7 am and hiked down to the saddle of castle and conundrum for a nice glissade down. You have to hike 20 yards down from the saddle before you hit the snow line and then you can sit down and slide down. An ice axe was very helpful for the glissade. I was back home and in bed in Aspen by 930.
|2016-07-04||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Leftover snow blocking the road up the basin around 11,800ft. With the warm weather, should be gone the end of the week, if not sooner. Some snowfields to cross on the way up to Castle but not bad in the morning. Little bit of postholing before noon. With the recent rains, some wet dirt and mud to contend with on the route. I slipped twice, once bruising my tailbone and another tearing up my hand trying to grab a handhold. Ugh!
|2016-07-03||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: We watched a Tacoma start to float trying to cross a fast and deep Castle Creek (@ 10,200 feet) fed by flash flooding the night before. Pretty much everyone chose to park before the creek after seeing that and continued on by foot across the foot bridge. By afternoon, the creek was passable by vehicle again......be smart if there's been recent precipitation; it's not worth the risk to cross in your SUV and get swept away. About 1.75 miles after the Castle Creek crossing at 11,400 feet, a 10' long section of the 4x4 road has been completely washed out by the flash flood creating another small creek that needs to be crossed. To cross the flash flood creek area by vehicle, I'd say a 2-3" lift on a Jeep/Truck/SUV and 32" tires will be necessary until the road has been repaired (assuming you don't want to do damage and are an experienced jeeper). Passing the flash flood area on foot without getting wet was a challenge, but this should get better over the coming days as the water dies down. The rest of the road up to the parking area at 12,800 feet is in pretty good shape with only 1 snow bank still crossing the road. Above the parking area at 12,800 feet, there is still quite a bit of snow on your way up to the saddle. Micro spikes and ice axe are helpful, but not necessary. The route beyond was slick from recent snow, but still in good, Class 2+ shape.
|2016-07-02||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: It can be a bit tricky to find the main route up. Once you clear the river, fr102 leads 95% of the way before a small but impassible snow field. Once you've reached the end of the road you'll want to head for rocks surrounded by a snow field on each side as opposed to the class 3 scrambling available on the left. After you get out of the ampitheater, its snow free. We wanted to glissade from the saddle, but the snow was not solid and the drop looks 'extreme'. it didn't seem safe. Once back in the ampitheater the snow was much better. we dropped ~1000 feet in 10 minutes with the butt slide! in excellent condisionts.