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Route  Conditions Information  Posted By   Posted On    Photos  Comments Likes Dislikes    
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 
2013-06-08  Castle and Conundrum  The snow is melting fast. We started hiking at 3:30am from the campsite before the bridge and didn‘t start hitting consistent snow until 3 miles in. We didn‘t feel comfortable ascending the Conundrum Couloir based on the enormous cornice currently there, but we did meet someone who skied down the Couloir yesterday. Definite signs of small/medium wet slides. We went up the saddle, hit Conundrum, and then went up the ridge to Castle and skied down the North Face Couloir. Skied down the basin and followed a very narrow strip of snow as the path winds down. Wonderful trip and good snow, but I don‘t think there will be much left after this weekend if it stays warm. blacomb   2013-06-09 4  2    Edit Delete 
2012-10-27  Northeast Ridge  Definitely need a 4wd with high clearance to make it to the lower TH at 9,900 ft (before the creek crossing). A 4wd vehicle with chains can make it to about 12,500ft and we saw a truck do it. Snowshoes are recommended as the snow level gets to about 6-8 inches around 12,500ft and 1-2+ft deep once you get to the end of the road leading up to the lower basin. The snow is not very packed down as of now and the boulder fields are not quite fully covered which would be easier to travel over. Hope this helps anyone planning to do this soon. Mtn Izz   2012-10-27 4  1    Edit Delete 
2012-09-29  Northeast Ridge  Snow from last week around - probably for the season. Expect some melting, but the summer season is over. Surprised to see the ‘permanent‘ snow field gone. Made hiking up that rock section a bitch. Our CMC group hit 13,900ish. Based on the conditions and skill sets of some of the folks, called it and turned around. Still a great day. No issues getting to Montezuma basin if you are 4Wheeling up. An ice axe, microspikes or crampons, and helmet might be good to bring. Snow on the ridge from Castle to Conundrum. Snow conditions for a climb straight up Conundrum did not look great. uwe   2012-10-01  0     Edit Delete 
2012-09-18  Northeast Ridge  Did Castle and Conundrum on 18 Sep. There‘s some snow on the route and although it is melting I suspect it will be around for a couple days. Microspikes were not needed today but with another freeze on the horizon tonight, it might be a good idea to bring them tomorrow. tjerasdave   2012-09-18 1  3    Edit Delete 
2012-08-05  Castle and Conundrum  Tons of rockfall both heard and seen on 8/5/12. Only saw one group descend from the saddle and they looked miserable. They left Conundrum probably 20 minutes before we did, we re-ascended Castle to go down, and I‘d bet if we‘d left at the same time from Conundrum we would have beat them down, they looked like they weren‘t having much fun. Looked very dangerous to go down the snow-free saddle. Loose rock everywhere, per usual. fleetmack   2012-08-06  0  3    Edit Delete 
2012-07-23  Castle and Conundrum  There was a posting in the forum about rockfall danger descending from the Castle/Conundrum saddle. I did the route on the 23rd and certainly heard a lot of rockfall down into the basin, but I was not affected by any of it during my descent. The descent route is snow-free but held up pretty well. I didn‘t have any problems with traction going down. I‘ve included a few pics of the descent route. Also posted a view of the basin. The rockfall I witnessed was mainly over that dirty snowfield on the right side of the basin, below the Castle/Conundrum ridge. I wore a helmet just in case, but again, never had a problem. drhansenej   2012-07-31 3     Edit Delete 
2012-07-12  Northwest Ridge to Castle-Conundrum Couloir  We used micro spikes on a short section of the ascent to the upper basin; however, this section was short and likely avoidable. There is very thin ice/snow only at the very bottom of the Castle-Conundrum couloir, and we cut out well before the snow. We did pull out axes for a glissade on the North side of the lower basin, but the snow was really soft and the axes were unnecessary. Summary: spikes and axes are still helpful, but you could probably live without them. carson_h   2012-07-15  0       

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