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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|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.
|2016-07-05||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.
|2016-06-25||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: The 4wd road is clear to the last big switchback before the end of the road. After that switchback, there is a small, but impassable snowfield. The road was 99% free of snow and what there was was mostly, but not totally avoidable on foot. The ascent from the end of the road up into the basin still has a lot of snow, but today, the snow was soft on top and hard underneath, even in the afternoon, so it was a pleasure to climb. Very little post holing, and good foot grip. We had traction, but it wasn't necessary to use. The ascent from the basin to the ridge, and everything beyond, is free of snow. Castle, Conundrum and the connecting ridge can be climbed without setting foot in snow. However, the saddle in between the peaks does have snow all the way down into the basin, and it made for a great glissade. Conditions were great and almost everyone on the mountain took advantage of the great snow conditions to get down quickly. It was also possible to take a second glissade from below the small lake, most of the way to the end of the 4x4 road.
|2016-06-24||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: I ascended Conundrum Peak via the conundrum coulouir, which is currently in great condition. I found crampons very useful after the bench at the end of the road at 12,840' and an ice ax is definitely required within the coulouir. The large cornice which guards the top is easily avoidable by climbing up steep snow on the right side. A short scramble to the left will take you to the summit. It might also be enjoyable to go right and climb the second summit of Conundrum Peak. I descended the south ridge of Conundrum, ascended the Northwest Ridge of Castle Peak. From the summit of Castle Peak I descended to the small lake between the two peaks on a well worn trail with gentle swtichbacks. The traverse from Conundrum to Castle Peak is mostly snow free and the descent route is completely snow free until you reach the snowfields near the lake. A moderate glissade took me back to my campsite at 12,840 feet. I parked on the Castle Creek Road just below the 10,820' road junction (and after the small bridge) the afternoon before and hiked to the end of the road to camp. The only thing that went wrong was significant rodent damage to the car. Hoses were completely chewed through, causing a complete drain of engine coolant. I strongly recommend some kind of rodent deterrent if you park here (mothballs, rat poison, etc).
|2016-06-19||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Started at 4:30 from a dispersed camping spot below the creek crossing. Road from the creek crossing almost snow free outside of a few sections. Ice axe and micro-spikes used to ascend into the upper basin. From that point the standard route up to Castle Peak is snow free until the final pitch. Included a picture to give an idea of the conditions. Route over to Conundrum Peak snow free as well except for a few small sections that were avoidable. Fun glissade back down. Back to my site at 11:30. Happy to answer any specific questions.
|2016-06-12||Route: North Face Couloir
Info: Better late than never. Hope this report, even though its 5 days old, help people make decisions this weekend!! This last Sunday, I climbed Castle and Conundrum via the North Face Couloir. Started the hike at 5:20AM from the creek crossing. I'll list conditions in bullet form. I needed Crampons/Ice Ax, never put on snowshoes. - Creek crossing was running high. Road accessible to 1 mile above creek crossing. Intermittent snow drifts from 1 mile on road to a little past the Pearl Pass junction, where snow became deep and had fuller coverage. - Hiking the road up was variable conditions. Snow was easy enough to cross, with some minor postholing in the deeper drifts, but lots of stable crusty snow out there. At some point above Pearl Pass Junction, road became completely covered in running water. See photo 1! Shortly after, the road ducks under some avy debris and is easy to lose. Above here, the road varies between tough to find under snow, with long exposed stretches. This holds up to 12,600. - From 12,600 to 12,800, if you've managed to follow the road, it crosses a completely covered slope. Otherwise, you'll probably be coming up the valley just to the climber's left of the road. Snow conditions through here were again good with minor postholes. - Headwall was really nice kickable snow shortly after 8AM. I took the right path up the headwall, and put in my own boot pack. Very supportable snow. See pic 2. - Pic 3 is Castle viewed from the upper basin - Pic 4 is the standard route viewed from below. - Pic 5 is Conundrum from the upper basin. Note the cornice on the conundrum Coulour. - Crossing to the base of the couloir was more of the same. Crusty snow with minor postholes. The couloir itself at 9AM had excellent snow. Still hard and frozen, and I was able to use another booter on the way up it. Best snow of the day was in the couloir, which had good coverage. Pic 6 is the Couloir. - Summit ridge up from the couloir was some of the worst snow I've seen. Chest/neck deep postholing and flailing through a bowl of Icee consistency snow. - Ridge to Conundrum was almost completely dry, and almost all snow could be avoided with careful route finding and Class 3 willingness. Pic 7 is Castle from Conundrum. Pic 8 is Conundrum summit pitch. - Glissade down to the tarn what quick and joyous! Contouring around the tarn went very well with more firm snow, and the headwall glissade was also excellent. - Hike out was uneventful. I took the valley instead of the road, as many did. Be warned though, a 5ftx5ft area of snow collapsed under my weight into flowing water while hiking out. Hope this helps! Conditions are changing super rapidly, so take all this 5-day-old info with a pound of sat.
|2016-06-05||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Early birds get the worm! The snow becomes wet at 8:30 - even up to the saddle between Castle and Conundrum. Snow conditions before 8:30 were perfect for getting up the snowfield(s)- light freeze overnight. Most avalanches (small scale) have already gone off- still potential though, so be early. As far as driving conditions go: though it is possible for cars to cross the river, the road is snowed over shortly (~400m) after the river.
|2016-06-03||Route: North Face Couloir
Info: Good News, Bad News. There was a good freeze last night which made the ascent pretty special. The bad news is that at 10:30 am, everything below 13,300 was mush. Post hole hell, regardless if you have skis or snowshoes. There is a considerable amount of avy activity on all aspects but north.
|2016-05-29||Route: Conundrum Couloir
Info: Summited Conundrum via Conundrum couloir and traversed to Castle and descended Castle's north face couloir. Both couloirs are stable as of yesterday, but if you are planning on conundrum anytime soon get there as early as possible. There is a cornice at the top of conundrum couloir that will likely be crashing down during a warm afternoon. The north face couloir of Castle is in great condition and would make for an excellent ski.
|2016-05-28||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Castle Creek Rd is clear up to the first bridge crossing. The road is only accessible by snowmobile after that. Lots of snow and drifts cover the way up to the basin.
|2016-05-23||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: We climbed Castle and Conundrum early this morning. No one is getting more than 20 feet past the creek crossing at the moment unless you are on a snowmobile but 4 wheel drive cars can reach the creek crossing. Starva said the round trip from there was 9.4 miles. As the previous conditions report stated there was a lot of avy debris on the approach. Having said that however we found nothing but solid snow all morning. We started at 415am summited conundrum by 8am and were back at the car by 1030 so we may have had more solid conditions since there was a good freeze the night before. We brought snowshoes but never put them on once only potholing a few times. We wore microspikes the entire time although up higher there a few spots where crampons would have been nice but we felt comfortable continuing since we had our ice axe. The last photo is of the colour since I know a lot of people are looking for info on that. Sorry that is the best photo I have. We didn't climb up it but it looked like there was a lot of avy debris in it although you can still see ski tracks of someone who has come down since then. If you are a skier this looks like heaven. Unfortunately I am not but several epic glissades were had.
|2016-05-22||Route: North Face Couloir
Info: Plan A was to climb the north face couloir, traverse across to Conundrum, and descend the northeast ridge. Plan B was to climb the northeast ridge, traverse, and descend our way up. Neither plans were an option yesterday. The Avy danger is significant throughout Montezuma Basin and clear Avalanche activity was prevalent on almost every aspect. I reached ~13,500 and decided to turn around after seeing the conditions of the basin. I witnessed 2 groups of skiers on the summit who ascended the NW ridge, which is doable, but crosses significant avalanche terrain. Significant avalanche debris is in every ski descent on Castle and Conundrum Peaks
|2016-04-25||Route: North Face Couloir
Info: Skied the North face of Castle yesterday. Conditions were packed powder in the north couloir. Snow is continuous to the road closure at Ashcroft. Didn't have crampons with us so we didn't climb/ski Conundrum, but the couloir looked really smooth.
|2016-04-24||Route: Castle Creek Rd
Info: Gate still closed, 1.7 miles from the lower Castle Creek trailhead.
|2016-01-10||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Summited Castle and Conundrum today. Snow seemed very stable. Trench available (until the next snow or high wind)
|2015-10-31||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: I only made it to ~13,850‘. There were a few factors but the biggest was that the route felt unsafe to me once it got onto the loose rock and "difficult class 2" parts at that elevation. My level of exhaustion, gusty wind (~30mph to place a guess) and slippery snow/ice all played a part in my decision to to turn back. The rest of the ridge, namely the approach that is pretty much straight up the northwest face, was doable and safe but in my unprofessional opinion this approach will be dangerous avy territory come the next snow. The entire face was heavily wind scoured and the surface was a slab a few inches thick (this was true of many aspects, including parts of the road above ~12,200‘, and the head wall). I think it‘s safe to say I was hiking on the "persistent weak layer" that is so often the cause for avy concern in CO. YMMV, but if I try again this winter, it‘ll be the couloir route. There wasn‘t enough snow on any of the slopes flanking the road to concern me WRT avy danger. I took a switching route up the head wall that I had not seen described anywhere. Ultimately there are of course many ways up, but I‘m attaching an annotated image of approximately what I did (the two people in the image skinned up past me and did something similar, but switched back more often). I used microspikes until ~11,400 then switched to snowshoes. Without snowshoes life‘s going to get uncomfortable, at least in spots, by ~11,800‘. I ascended the northeast ridge until the point where the route cuts to follow the ridge line in showshoes, then switched to microspikes. I don‘t see how it‘d be possible to do the rest of the route in snowshoes, but I also didn‘t summit. The tire tracks visible in photo 7 were made by a Polaris RZR, the only vehicle I saw beyond the Pearl Pass junction. It took me about 7.5 hours to reach 13,850‘, and about 10.5 hours RT (9.9mi). More pictures and some videos, one showing wind gusts while on the head wall, here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewdavidoff/albums/72157660603004466 I also updated TH status: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/threport.php?recnum=4538