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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2014-06-21||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Climbed Castle and Conundrum today, via Castle‘s NE ridge. There is LOTS of snow in Montezuma Basin still, but we were fine in just boots. We occasionally postholed on the way out around noon today. The NE ridge is free of snow until just below Castle‘s summit. On Conundrum, there is more snow, but nothing that can‘t be easily bypassed. If you‘re looking for an epic glissade, go down the saddle between Castle and Conundrum. You won‘t be disappointed.
|2014-06-15||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: 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)
|2014-06-11||Route: East Face
Info: 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.
|2014-06-07||Route: North Face Couloir
Info: 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.
|2014-06-07||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: 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!
|2014-05-17||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: 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.
|2014-01-22||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: 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|
|2013-10-17||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: 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.
|2013-10-13||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: 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.
|2013-09-25||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: 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
|2013-09-21||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: 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.
|2013-08-27||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: 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.
|2013-08-05||Route: Castle & Conundrum
Info: 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||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: 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.
|2013-07-07||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: 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.
|2013-06-28||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: 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.
|2013-06-22||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: 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.
|2013-06-18||Route: North Face Couloir
Info: 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.
|2013-06-15||Route: North Face Couloir
Info: 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.
|2013-06-10||Route: North Face Couloir
Info: 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