| Cumberland Basin Approach
Disclaimer: I did not climb Castle Peak. I included it so that if someone wanted to approach the peak from the south, they would find some beta that would appear in a "Castle Peak" search.
We camped at around 9400 feet at a great pullout for our camper on Brush Cr., and a great place for my wife to hang out while I went for a little hike. Left camp at 7am. Rode my bike the 7 miles up to the trailhead, crossing Brush Cr. 3 times. The creek crossings were about mid calf high, (well above the bottom bracket), and cold in the am. A stock full size 4 wheel drive pickup made it to the trailhead.
Gear: Trailrunners, daypack
Planning: Looked at a map, went hiking, see what I would find
Teocalli Mtn. from Brush Cr. road
View of Pt. 13550, Castleabra, and Castle peak (summit is just barely visible) from the wilderness permit station.
Yes the trail is a little obscure in sections. Some might call it bushwacking. This is pretty typical of the trail in the willows, overgrown, but easy to follow. If the willows are as tall as you are, you have lost the "trail." If some routefinding suites you instead of walking up the 4 wheel drive road to the NE ridge of Castle, this basin is for you. It will not dissappoint.
View from the wilderness boundary sign 1/3 of a mile from the trailhead. The trail is here somewhere. The trail enters the low willows on the right side of the picture, then stays down low below the pine trees, well below the small cliff near the center of the picture, about 50 feet from the beaver pond. Don't make the mistake of heading into the trees up high above the small cliff. It was a lot faster to stay low on the way out. Plus, it is always good karma to start off on the trail instead of bushwacking in the trees and deadfall at the start of a hike.
View of Pt. 13,820 (left) and Castle Pk. (right)
Pt. 13,550 and the traverse from Castleabra
Closer view of traverse from Castleabra.
Pt. 13,550....Got to come down somewhere.
Close up of middle towers
This was the only section of the traverse that kept me thinking. If I had to traverse the snow on top of the coullior or climb straight over the tower, it might be time to bail. The trailrunners would not cut it if I had to traverse below the tower on this side. I put the possible bail routes in the back of my mind, and would decide about the route once the tower was 25 feet in front of me.
The last little bit to get up Castleabra. Talus lovers are feeling the heat here.
View of the saddle between Castleabra and pt. 13,820.
Castleabra pt.13,820 saddle
The approach up Cumberland Basin from Castleabra.
Slide debris on the north side of Castleabra.
N side debris
Cathedral Peak's West side.
The traverse to pt. 13,550 from the summit of Castleabra. On to the fun stuff!
View of the middle towers
As you can see, what appeared to be the difficulties from the east side while approaching, are easily bypassed on the west side of the ridge. One can drop down as low as one would like, traversing on the talus, bypassing the steeper rock all together. Or you can stay as high as you like, bobbing up and down like a cork, or somewhere inbetween.......
The crux of the traverse was actually getting through the bottom cliff bands of the summit pyramid for me. Maybe I should have gone left instead of right. The traverse was mostly class 2-3, with a few 4th class steps about 8 feet tall.
Someone has been lounging here. How hard can the traverse be?
Left, Right, or straight up the last tower before the summit of 13,550?
A look back at the traverse. It took me about 1:10 to do the traverse from Castleabra to 13,550.
Teocalli and Twin Lakes.
Castle peak and the Castles?
The large tower on the south side of 13,550. Mmmmm not an easy way around this one. I decided to descend the east face back down into the basin.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):