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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|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
|2015-10-25||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Sunday went up to do some skiing on Castle. Thought I‘d post some picture. In a pretty sweet rig, we drove to about 12,5.
|2015-10-11||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Snow in the boulderfield in patches that can be avoided from the start at the upper TH to the upper basin and lake. Once on the ridge snow and ice are present in some of the steeper terrain, so microspikes are definitely advised.
|2015-09-27||Route: Passing through the area
Info: PEAK fall colors at Castle Creek Trailhead!
|2015-09-24||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Summitted Castle and Conundrum on Thursday 9/24. No snow on route -- that‘s not a great thing. Descent down Conundrum from the saddle (I guess that‘s Castle‘s NW Ridge) was terrible on loose, steep scree and dirt. Think Bross x10. Give some thought to going back over Castle and descending the NE Ridge, or skipping Conundrum. Beautiful out there this time of year. Full TR to follow.
|2015-09-05||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Was supposed to be a sunny and windy day, we just felt the strong and cold winds. Above 13k, visibility was very poor and ridge was wet & slippery with latest accumulation of fresh snow. We decided to skip Conundrum this time as we could barely see the path from Castle summit and started quite late (7am). Plenty of people summited though but it was rainy when we were down to the switchbacks.
|2015-08-30||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Above the 12,800 ft TH at about 12,900 ft, there are some snowfields, but you only have to cross about 20-40 ft before you‘re on dry rock again. There‘s also a dry rock patch crossing the snow, if you decide to lose some elevation to take that instead. The snow was firm in the morning, and only a little slippery at midday. No other snow issues. Descending via saddle vs back over Castle: After Conundrum, myself and two hikers who joined me tried to decide whether to go back over Castle, or to go down the saddle route. We decided to go down the saddle. It is fairly steep, but doable. The way I went, stepping on/holding onto solid rocks buried in the hillside, I faced inward a few times. It‘s more dirt near the top, and more small loose rock near the bottom. If I had to do it again, I‘d still probably go down that way, as it saved a lot of time and elevation gain vs going back over Castle Peak, even waiting 10-15 minutes as courtesy for the two climbers below me to clear the bottom. If you‘re comfortable "climbing mountains," the saddle is fine. But as a fellow hiker said, I wouldn‘t want to take my mom down that route. It was dry.. no snow or water issues.
|2015-08-08||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: There is still a bit of snow you have to cross just above the end of the road at 12,800. Spikes aren‘t needed if you take it easy. A trekking pole is a nice addition, ice ax would be overkill. The drop into the saddle for the decent was steep, loose and wet. It looked more intimidating from the Castle trail than it did looking at it from the saddle. Once through the chute, you‘ll have to decide to drop all the way to the lake or cross snow and rocks. We crossed while others tried to glissade down... lots of rocks hidden in the snow.
|2015-08-06||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Ice axe is nice to have if you are not comfortable crossing snowfields. Went up the NE ridge route without traction, used crampons to come down what‘s left of the snow on the NW ridge route to avoid going back over Castle‘s summit from Conundrum. Loose rock and dirt below the saddle, but not too bad.
|2015-08-05||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: I am attempting to climb all the 14ers this summer. This makes #20! You can read more about this hike and others on my blog at sunshineof1985.com! Distance: 16.73 mi. (with added 2.25 mi going the wrong way) Elevation Gain: 4,600 feet Time started: 6:20am End time: 4:10pm Time to Summit: 6 hours and 30 minutes Time to Descent: 3 hours GEAR (to bring): GPS, extra socks, phone, SPOT Satellite Tracker, Yak Trax and poles, Map with Topo print-out, hiking boots with 2 pairs of socks on, long-sleeve, wind-guard/raincoat, light weight puffy coat (didn‘t need), lightweight gloves (didn‘t need), day pack with water sack and extra water bottles(130 oz), food (2 protein bars, 2 granola bars, beef jerky and trailmix), sunscreen, lip balm. Road Condition: Blacktop road and easy driving. Then you get to the dirt road. To the left is a tar road that is closed, to the right, is the road you need to take. I went not even .1 miles, then bottomed out in a pothole. I turned around and decided the road was too bad to drive in any further. If you have a sedan, you could probably make it to the first couple campsites, but make sure you get there early or you‘ll just have to drive back out. Trail Condition: This is my biggest complaint, but it‘s because I don‘t have a 4WD vehicle. Most of the trail is actually on a dumb bumpy dirt road. Only the last 2 miles are where you get into the more fun stuff. There is a lot of snow once you get to the end of the road, so bring your Yak Trax to get traction.
|2015-07-24||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Sweet! These conditions are awesome. I packed microspikes and an ice axe and was hoping to go up the main couloir, but it has finally thinned out and there is now a considerable length without any snow coverage. The main route is free of snow until the first basin, which is the only stretch where you have any snow. Snow was incredibly firm and perfect for walking around 6:00 am with microspikes, I‘m not sure I would want to do this without them still, even though there‘s only one snow stretch it is quite large. After the basin it is snow-free. I did Castle and connected to Conundrum, and then came down to the ridgeline saddle and downclimbed on the snow with microspikes and an ice axe. (the lowest point in the ridge on the 1st picture) The area above where the snow starts was steep and loose, and the snow had some old glissade marks. It was way too firm to glissade for me (would go way too fast and it would hurt) and I also saw several small rocks in the path that I really didn‘t want on my ass. The downclimb took a bit longer than expected because the snow was still exceptionally firm at 9ish, so digging the feet in was difficult. Would have been a breeze with actual crampons. You can see the conundrum couloir still intact in the first pic, it is still possible but I wasn‘t about to attempt it without crampons. View of Castle in the second pic shows how the couloir is now impassible. Some people were trying to ski, but unless you‘re impressive enough to do the whole conundrum couloir, I don‘t see it being worth the effort. The snow was very hard too and many of the basins and the stretch I downclimbed are covered in deep glissade tubes.