Peak:  Castle Peak (14er)
 Route:  Castle and Conundrum
 Range:  Elk
 Posted By:  salmanalsaif
 Date of Info:  11/03/2020
 Date Posted:  11/04/2020

Only person out there all day.
Very warm on election day, summitted in my running t-shirt. No wind to speak of either.

Started from the 2WD spot, and measured 14.9 miles in 10:30 hrs. The 4WD approach varies from slick ice, to snow, to plain dry rocks. Used my spikes most of the time but had to take them off on occasion after prolonged rock crunching. Wouldn't recommend going without traction.

At the base of the mountains (end of the approach, around 5 miles), postholing became an issue so I put on my snowshoes. However I couldn't figure out a good beta to get to the upper basin area so I ended up following a ski trail on the snow slope (I knew the terrain would get better after the slope). This part was very tough and slow, felt like I was running in place. Ended up sticking near the rocks on the north side (right) to grab my way to the top (someone had the same idea too, saw some tracks).
Took off the snowshoes when I got to the upper basin area and spotted the summit trail. It was still hard/confusing with a heavy pack but managed to summit both. The ridge to Castle was good though. Some snowy areas but they weren't an issue.

At a glance, didn't look like a good idea to drop from the saddle low point after Conundrum. So to speed things up, ditched my pack at Castle and rushed to Conundrum and back before descending.

Tough but doable. Biggest issue like I mentioned is I couldn't figure out a good way to get to the ridge for the summit (and had the most difficulty getting to the basin).

 Comments or Questions

Nice report
11/04/2020 12:46
Sounds like a difficult, but wonderful day to hike a high mountain in good weather later in the year.

Re: Nice report
11/08/2020 15:24
It was more difficult than I expected, but the good weather made it possible like you said. Would be interested in reading someone else's report of this.

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