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Castle Peak  
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Route  Conditions Information  Posted By   Posted On    Photos  Comments Likes Dislikes    
2014-06-15  Castle and Conundrum  Today I climbed Conundrum couloir, followed the ridge to Castle, and descended Castle‘s northeast ridge. Snow was well consolidated, firm and supportive, to the point of being icy. When I was in the Conundrum couloir, between 8:20 and 9:50, I began chopping rather than kicking steps half way up, and continued to do so until I reached the saddle between the summits. By the time I descended Montezuma Basin in the early afternoon, the snow had softened substantially, but was still quite supportive. Conundrum Couloir retains plenty of snow, while Conundrum‘s ridge to Castle has only a few, easily negotiated patches of snow. (Photo 1) Castle‘s northwest ridge is almost completely devoid of snow. (Photo 2) Castle‘s north face couloir contains climbable snow, but it is mostly on the western edge of the couloir. The couloir cannot be said to be full of snow as it sometimes is. (Photo 3) Castle‘s northeast ridge is mostly dry, but has occasional patches of snow that must be negotiated, and crampons are advisable for the final pitch from the top of the north face couloir to the summit. (Photo 4) RWSchaffer   2014-06-15 4     Edit Delete 
2014-06-11  East Face  Skied from summit down east face. pretty good snow for first thousand feet, then crappy and s--tty dust infused garbage mixed with some runnels. Getting narrow in spots. goreskier   2014-06-13  0       
2014-06-07  North Face Couloir  Climbed and skied Castle via NF couloir. Great conditions, but it‘s getting just a tad rocky/thin. Plenty of snow on the summit. Continued on to Conundrum. TH access: made it to the 1st river crossing in a Subaru. Very large snow drift/avy debris field soon thereafter. nkan02   2014-06-09 6     Edit Delete 
2014-06-07  Castle and Conundrum  Summited Castle via the NE ridge, went on to Conundrum, and descended via the saddle. Lots of snow up there, but mostly firm, even on the way back (quite surprising!). We used snowshoes on the way back and descended the drainage almost to treeline to avoid traversing back to the road. It was a beautiful snow climb in a gorgeous setting! esagas   2014-06-08  0  2    Edit Delete 
2014-05-17  Castle and Conundrum  Skied some lines on Pearl pass today. Castle and Conundrum looked amazing!! Original plan was to ski Conundrum, but we slept in. Hoping to head back up in the next couple of weekends, pending weather. One note, saw 3 wet slab avalanches and heard at least 2 more up in Montezuma basin. Pic is view of Castle and Conundrum from 12,000 up pearl pass. Hypersnow   2014-05-17 1  2    Edit Delete 
2014-01-22  Northeast Ridge  Nice packed trail all the way to the Montezuma Basin turnoff. Past the turnoff the track continues a few hundred yards, snowshoes are helpful at this point. Did not make it further up into the Valley of Death. Cool Hand Luke   2014-01-22  0  1    Edit Delete 
2013-10-17  Northeast Ridge  Road becomes hard pack snow/ice almost immediately after initial creek crossing. There were some manageable but deep snowdrifts on road after Pearl Pass junction to the lower basin. Definitely some dangerous post holing conditions in the basin and beyond (waist and thigh high in some sections). It‘s winter in the high elks! Skis/snowshoes mandatory. kworkman1002   2013-10-18  0     Edit Delete 
2013-10-13  Castle and Conundrum  I was up there last Sunday (Oct 13). We parked just before the stream crossing in our fairly new Forester, just because I‘m pretty squeamish yet about driving it on rough roads. At that time, there wasn‘t much water in the stream crossing. We watched a Land Cruiser go thru and it didn‘t even come up past the tires to the wheels. Also, there were tracks in the snow all the way up to the jeep parking area high up in the basin. Some of the tracks showed they had tire chains. There were some slick icy spots in the trees along the way which made me think I might not make it anyway. But we did see a couple of other vehicles make it up to the Pearl Pass turnoff without chains. From the jeep parking area, it looked like a 4-wheeler (ATV) had gone a bit farther. And then there was a skin track that looked at least a day old. There was a good bit of snow and some significant drifting when I started the off-road part of the hike. I didn‘t have snowshoes or skis, just microspikes, and I ended up doing a lot of postholing up to my knees or more when stepping between rocks. After struggling a bit with the snow and getting tired, I ended up turning around. I had been planning both Castle and Conundrum. They were close, but no cigar. Also, it rained quite a bit overnight and into the morning the next day in Carbondale (Oct 14), so I‘m guessing C & C got a lot more snow. pic 1 - just after the creek crossing on Castle Creek Rd pic 2 - at the turnoff to Pearl Pass rd pic 3 - the ATV tracks leaving the jeep parking area pic 4 - the skin tracks heading up to the C & C saddle. craigjhn   2013-10-17 4  1  Edit Delete 
2013-09-25  Northeast Ridge  Lots of snow above the road termination The boulder field was full of snow making travel unsafe, kept postholing deep into spaces between rocks Headwall not able to be ascended for this reason May melt out in several days if no more snow Three groups turned back at this point that day jfroweiiimd   2013-09-30  0     Edit Delete 
2013-09-21  Northeast Ridge  2 to 4 inches of snow beginning at the steep hill above the end of the road. Microspikes very helpful. Of course this may change tomorrow as more snow is forecast to fall. HikerGuy   2013-09-21 2     Edit Delete 
2013-08-27  Castle and Conundrum  Route was quite wet after the recent rains. Lower boulderfield has traces of snowmelt making rock slick also. If it has rained a day or two before, the rocks and dirt tend to be very slick as much of the route is in the shade early morning, so use extra caution. The snowfield between Castle and Conundrum is completely melted out, frequent rockfall in the basin. Opted to re-ascend Castle instead of descending the saddle. cougar   2013-08-29 1  1    Edit Delete 
2013-08-05  Castle & Conundrum  Beautiful hike. There are still some patches of snow and ice, but they are easily avoidable. That being said, I would not descend the saddle (ever again) this time of year. The route down that way is bone dry and absolutely loaded with loose dirt and rock. There was more than one time that I found myself sliding towards a drop off, where each rock I grabbed tore out of the mountain and crashed down the slope. It also took longer for our group to descend this way than it did another group that re summited Castle. Relative to Zero   2013-08-07 2       
2013-07-19  Northeast Ridge  Climb was great. Very little snow, only a few areas where a traverse across it was required. Snow held up well in the late morning - no posthole issues coming down. The climb of the northeast ridge to gain Castle summit was amazing, fun with a few ledgy sections with good scrambling and route finding opportunities. Ridge to Conundrum was equally as fun, albeit with looser rock. The only issue was coming off the saddle into the basin. There is about 200 feet between the saddle and top of the snow, so the going was dicey - loose dirt and scree all being channeled into small gulleys that had to be taken to get down. With more than one person, make sure others down the route have protection from runaway rocks and dirt that pick up speed quickly. emiller6   2013-07-20  0     Edit Delete 
2013-07-07  Castle and Conundrum  Road is clear all the way up to the trailhead and the river isn‘t raging too hard. Just make sure to have 4wd. NE ridge of Castle wide open and there is still snow on the left and right sides of the basin, making for a nice snow climb. Glissade from the saddle still possible. ahewitt0513   2013-07-07  0     Edit Delete 
2013-06-28  Castle and Conundrum  We made it to 11,400 feet along the road in a 4Runner without problems, and a pickup truck made it to probably around 12,000 ft. Still can‘t make it to the 12,800 trailhead due to some snow patches but that may change in the next week or so. We ascended the snowfield to the upper basin (first picture), and glissaded off the Castle-Conundrum saddle. The snow was pretty soft. We used microspikes and an ice ax, the spikes didn‘t do much but the ax was quite helpful for the ascent and the glissade. csmith   2013-06-28 2     Edit Delete 
2013-06-22  Castle and Conundrum  Montezuma Basin is still loaded with snow! I made it up to the Basin without the use of Crampons or spikes but they would have been very handy! I gave my spikes to my buddy who had never been out on a 14er in the snow before. There was still enough snow in the coulier up to the saddle between Castle and Conundrum for several to climb it and many of us to enjoy a mach 10 ride to the base of the peaks. Coxie2210   2013-06-23  0     Edit Delete 
2013-06-18  North Face Couloir  Creek is crossable with a 4x4 truck (frontier) and made it all the way to cabin with no problems at all. 100 yds. past is a thick drift not crossable unless frozen. North couloir is out. 35 yards of rock between snow. Skied the remaining snow at 10 am and was great corn all the way past the lake and down the headwall. skibum4life   2013-06-20 1     Edit Delete 
2013-06-15  North Face Couloir  River still raging and not safe to cross with vehicle at 1.3 mile mark from lower TH turnoff. I camped here to play it safe, and started at 5 am the next morning. Probably better to not start much later than 5 am with warming temps if you want to do what‘s left of the snow in the Castle / North Face Couloir. If you can get through it with an lifted 4 x 4, you will get another 1.5 miles up until an avalanche slide still blocks the road, though it is melting out fast. About 1.5 - 2 feet thick of snow at this 30 foot section. 4 x 4 may be able to get over this in about 1 to 2 weeks. The Pearl Pass Road junction is then another .5 mile beyond. Still 6 inches of water over the road another .3 miles ahead of that...(the road is morphed into a runoff river), but no problem crossing it either by foot or by vehicle if you drive up that far. A few sections of snow remain higher up over the road into Montezuma Basin, but easy to walk around or across. Snow field remained quite thick and firm above 12,800 feet. Castle Couloir/ North Face Couloir was almost still solid snow. There is about a 6 foot section about 2/3rds up that has almost melted out. You will not be able to ski over this area any more. Other than that, it‘s still a good snow climb and felt solid at 8 am. Wouldn‘t push doing it much past 9 or 10 am, as it is getting mushy by then. On final ridgeline push above North Face Couloir, you have corniced snow on the southwest side of the ridgeline. Avoid it, as it appears quite unstable. There is room and dry area all the way to the summit to the right of that along on the ridgeline. Dry all the way down from Castle to the saddle, and dry all the way over to Conundrum summit. Conundrum Couloir still looks snowfilled top to bottom, but that big cornice at the top of the Conundrum Couloir is still there as of Saturday morning. Plenty of snow from the saddle down to glissade. Two other glissades still are in. Not to bad walking out on the snow sections between the glissades at 11 am...few postholes...but still mushy. semitrueskerm   2013-06-17  0  2    Edit Delete 
2013-06-10  North Face Couloir  Had great climb of the North Face Couloir yesterday. Snow conditions are quite firm and good until about 150 ft. from the top, where it‘s getting thin. As I topped out, a skier was dropping in off the South side into Cumberland basin. Despite the very warm temps (50 deg. at 14k at 8am), very firm snow on the descent--no postholing whatsoever, and excellent glissades all the way down to the mining road. Unbelievable amount of water coming out of there, and a LOT of snow remains. The ridge traverse is free of snow, except for a few tricky sections going up Conundrum. A lot of rockfall in the Conundrum Couloir (virtually constant after 11am). The cornice mentioned in the previous report remains immense. #1) North Face Couloir from the upper basin (on descent) #2) North Face from Conundrum screeman57   2013-06-11 2  2    Edit Delete 
2013-06-08  Northeast Ridge  For trailhead report, see that; I‘ll post one, too. Departed the campsite right before the creek crossing at 5am - felt it was a real late start and hoped it wouldn‘t be a post-hole fest in the afternoon. From Castle Creek crossing point, the hike on the road in is mostly dry, some avalanche chute and other persistent drifts still exist and are solid in the morning, softer in the afternoon (Photo 1). From Pearl Pass Road turnoff to the basin the upper creek has found a second home on the road, rushing to 5-6 inches in depth in the afternoon. Some creative route-finding is necessary in the afternoons to avoid getting totally soaked boots. I anticipate this will lessen in the upcoming weeks, but while a pain - all that water flowing with such force is a beautiful thing. The road up into the upper basin is drifted over, with narrow dry patches - no tools were necessary until reaching above 12,200‘ or so. The drift-over on the roads was constant and steeper, microspikes could have worked but crampons were nice (Photo 2). Once above the road, crampons were also nice to have to climb to the upper basin. The conditions of the snow was mostly solid, but to where microspike points may not have been deep enough. At the start of the NE ridge trail, equipment carried (crampons, snowshoes) were stashed. The ridge is dry and in good condition to the Castle Couloir summit. The Castle Couloir looks to be the route of choice for skiers; plenty of turns were evident. The top 20-feet of the Castle Peak summit crux is snowed in - looks sketchy from afar, but easily passable. BONUS REPORT - Traverse to Conundrum The traverse was dry, and chossy, like normal. The summit of Conundrum, for all who don‘t know, is the FAR summit, past the couloir. The Conundrum Couloir is holding a massive cornice - rather impressive. It was climbed and skied Saturday morning. DOUBLE BONUS REPORT - Glissading conditions Apprehensive to glissade from the saddle of Castle/Conundrum at first - no other lines evident. The tarn is melted out and the thought was there that the snow in the basin would be very soft. Went for it anyways. A 2pm glissade sounds like a slush-fest but it was the perfect amount of soft surface to keep the glissade very safe. The basin snow was also firm - no postholing anywhere except for rock edges. Highly recommendable. (Photo 3). Photo 4 - the creek that is actually the road in the afternoon. Tools used: Crampons (overkill, microspikes and patience would have worked); Ice Axe; Poles. wildlobo71   2013-06-09 4  1  Edit Delete 

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