Castle Peak  
Condition Updates  
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2020-07-26, By: Marshall
Info: Took my stock 2005 CR-V almost all the way to the Pearl Pass junction. The road is rough but manageable. We chose to go up the ridge immediately from the end of the road as discussed by Roach as the Northeast Ridge Variation. No snow on the entire route up Castle or over to Conundrum. We descend off the saddle; there was a good amount of dirt at the top and plenty of snow mixed in to make things interesting. It would be good to have an axe for safety here, but we managed without. Lots of glissading on the way down. 
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2020-07-24, By: SummitStormer
Info: I also took the NE Ridge 'Direct' and found it enjoyable. Easy class 3 / class 2 scrambling. Low or no exposure. As mentioned in the previous reports: end of the road at 12,800, turn left, head up the ridge on the far side. I stayed a couple hundred feet below the ridge, met up with the standard route within an hour, moderate pace. I enjoyed making a loop, taking the standard route down. Glissading note: about half of the snow remains on the headwall, very loose dirt/scree above. 2nd glissade to the 4WD road was awesome! 
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2020-07-19, By: IsaacD
Info: Took the Northeast Ridge Direct up Castle, per a trip report on here last year. Great class 3/easy class 4 climbing until you meet up with the standard route - definitely recommended for those comfortable scrambling. Glissaded down from the notch between the peaks, there's a nice slide path in place. Was able to glissaded again to the bottom parking area. Could do it with just just poles easily. 
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2020-07-13, By: cshanek
Info: Was able to glissade from the saddle in steep, quick, though mushy snow ( It was a little bit of a battle to control speed with an axe so I certainly would not attempt it without one. Lots of people waiting above the glissade path and kicking down rocks. We were also able to glissade from the turnoff to Castle just about all the way down to the talus field right above the end of the road. There were a couple of rocks to avoid but it was all fairly easy. I ascended everything without microspikes. The snow was crisp when we came through in the morning, and had a ton of steps kicked out. 
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2020-07-12, By: cdgibbons
Info: Little change from the last report. Traction required for the headwall. Glissade down the headwall is fun, safe, and almost all in; there is a short narrow section about halfway down where I stopped and walked and there were a couple of exposed rocks. If you were trying to avoid snow, it looked pretty viable to ascend rock with some small trail segments just to the climber's right of the snow but requires two short snow crossings. I didn't get a look at the variation to the left up the ridge. 
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2020-07-07, By: andrew85
Info: Full summer conditions up through the end of the road and from the top of the headwall to the summit. The lower headwall is still in and you'll need traction to climb through, but makes for a nice glissade on the way back. 
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2020-07-05, By: Wild Bill
Info: Got a late start on these two. I parked lower because my truck is low clearance and not much in the mountains. Walked the road which was perfect condition. Once on the trail I should have used crampons for the snow patches but I didn't want to wear heavy boots, hikers instead. Lots of people walking back down. Did both summits along the crest and great conditions. On my return I took the snowy chute glissade. I recommend an ice axe for this, lots of speed. 
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2020-07-03, By: soxfan249
Info: Parked an Outback just before the creek, totaled just over 12 miles and around 4200' elevation. Hit the saddle return from Conundrum around 9:45am and it was soft and steep with smaller exposed rocks where the slope begins to flatten. Made for a very difficult, uncontrolled glissade with a few scrapes on the legs - would recommend an ice axe and kicking footholds in until lower on the slope. Not sure how possible the saddle descent will be in the coming weeks. However, the second glissade from the headwall was in good shape - took us nearly all the way back to the road. 
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2020-06-29, By: Gzaharatos82
Info: Was able to drive my stock 2001 Jeep Cherokee 2.7 miles up the road, just over a wooden bridge. Parked there as it gets dicey after that. Made our round trip castle/conundrum around 9 miles, which included a glissade from the saddle and one down the head wall. Saddle glissade could have a few rocks that may get you. One bit me on the ass ... Ouch! Headwall filled w snow. If you have spikes and an axe you could blast right up it. It was hard snow early in the am so we gingerly made our way to the rock island on the left and took that up. Once over headwall, rest of trail is dry. Having an axe for those glissades helps too. They're steep, but doable. Second time up Castle, first making it over to Conundrum. Still my favorite of the 19 I've hiked so far. *There was a Toyota pickup truck that made it to the top of the road. 5 folks from Indiana. A few made it to the summit while other started hiking down. Apparently they lost the keys to their truck. One of them was running down to find their friends on the trail who he though had the key. We made it all the way down without seeing them again. Wondering what happened. If you see this, hope you were able to get your key and make it safely down. Must've been a long day. 
7 6
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2020-06-28, By: Skeletor
Info: Wonderful day for Castle & Conundrum. Stream crossing on the 4WD road seemed a little high to me, but saw a Honda CRV on the other side the water. Headwall is still full of snow and rather solid early in the morning. That said, I got up with just trekking poles. In retrospect, microspikes would have been helpful. Traverse to Conundrum is clear. Glissade from saddle is starting to melt out and show some rocks. Ice axe was helpful. 
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2020-06-27, By: Kittenmittenns
Info: Beautiful day on both Castle and Conundrum! Headwall is full of snow, spikes recommend in order to top out. Used an axe as well. Summer conditions after that. Glissade was a ton of fun, too, and still in good condition. Had to inch down about 20ft to get over some exposed rock peaking out of the snow before sending the last 3/4th of it. 
5 1
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2020-06-22, By: JakeByk
Info: What an underrated mountain! Amazing route with great (Class 3) scrambling. The notch below the last 100 feet is definitely a Class 3 move, be prepared for that. Snowfields still in place. The headwall is snowed in and poles/traction help -- you should have one or both. My axe got a lot of use. The Northeast Ridge itself is almost entirely free of snow. The glissade from the saddle between the two peaks is still in, though it's extremely steep since it starts at the top. Many did it with just poles since the apron is so big, but an ice axe would be recommended. 
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2020-06-22, By: sailingstar22
Info: Beautiful day on Castle and Conundrum. There is still snow in the Basin - mostly avoidable if you prefer to stay on the rocks, but it is consolidated and easy in good traction shoes or microspikes. Stay on the ridge for Castle (there are several false social trails, but the ridge has *mostly* solid rock with one slightly more challenging move right below the summit above a small snow patch). The route to Conundrum is completely snow free and easy to navigate. Although slightly terrifying, bring an ice axe (or at a minimum trekking poles) to glissade from the saddle. We saw several groups make their way down this way very slowly which made us nervous, but once one member of our group slid down, we all went for it. It's cold and fast, and there is definitely a small section where you will feel out of control, but it levels out and you will slow down before hitting the lake. We glissaded the next two pitches and were down to the road in no time. The Conundrum Coulior is still filled in and you can ski nearly all the way down to the road with a few short bootpacking sections. I brought my skis but partners did not, so we just glissaded, but it would be a fun ski! 
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2020-06-20, By: litote312
Info: Conditions still prime for these two, dry except for a couple hundred feet at the head wall. Glissade is in from the saddle and a few others are available descending the headwall. Was decently soft by 8AM, maybe try to get there a bit later. Also these peaks didn't get any snow from the 6/19 storm. 2 people climbed Conundrum couloir, said it was great as well. PPPS- if you were up there today and took a video of a guy with a doofy sun hat glissading while you were coming up to the basin, please pm me and share. I really want to play Ridin' Dirty to that and show my wife haha. 
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2020-06-13, By: CaptCO
Info: Ideal conditions for the traverse. Parked before the foot bridge, which is deteriorating. Was able to avoid water all the way to basin, just past the upper lot. Crossed one minor snowfield which was consolidated. Gained the beginning of NE switchbacks, dry all the way to about 20' below the summit which will melt out any day now. Couple class 3 moves to avoid snow, or gain elevation faster not sure if needed. Once on castle basically dry all the way to conundrum, took about 40min to traverse, returned to the saddle and had a secure corn glissade to the lake which is now melting out. 1-2 more glissades and I was back on the road. 
14 8
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2020-06-08, By: Christensenje
Info: Keep in mind this was hiked the day before 8 inches are forecasted to fall in the Elk Range. Dry conditions up to above tree line. Snow above 12,000 was packed and solid. No post holing, but did hit trail from lower trailhead at 3:30 and summit by 7. Back to car by 10:30. Easy to walk on with spikes. Definitely recommend spikes. Glissade was very very fast. Would not be safe without ice axe and helmet. Make sure to go slowly. Easy to slide out of control. With 8 inches falling onto the firm, slick snow tonight, and 10-25 mph south/east winds, the conditions will be much different and potentially unsafe to glissade for the next few days. Vehicle wise, River is moving fast but it you get past the river and have the proper vehicle, you can go very high up to just below tree line. Again, this could be completely changed with the new snow coming tonight. 
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2020-06-06, By: tdurty
Info: Road still blocked by large drifts all the way up to the 4WD TH at 12,800'. Furthest you can park is still below treeline, near the cabin on the right of the trail as you ascend. Used spikes with ice axe for safety to cross some of the large snow drifts on the road. Tons of snow still in the basin. Despite a very warm day, no postholing even though we were back in the basin around noon. Snow is still quite deep in many places. Definitely need spikes or crampons and an ice axe to ascend the basin to the saddle between Castle and Conundrum. The route along the saddle is almost completely dry, I imagine the few remaining spots of snow will melt in another day or two. Top notch glissading on the way down; I suppose you could do this without an ice axe, but the snow is steep and slick, so even using my axe as a brake I still gained substantial speed. Brought flotation but didn't use it; ended up stashing it just inside the basin. Quiet and beautiful blue bird day on these peaks, saw a total of 6 other people. 
5 3
Route: North Face Couloir
Posted On: 2020-05-31, By: KJMc
Info: Parked at 10,640' Intermittent snow up to 11,600'. You can skin from there or we elected to hike to the headwall before we put on crampons. North Couloir is dry 2/3 the way up, saddle looks nice and Conundrum Couloir looks great. Dusting of snow about 13,400', light rain below 13,400'. 
2 1
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2020-05-17, By: LetsGoMets
Info: Continuous snow from roughly half a mile beyond the foot bridge crossing. Spikes helpful above tree line. Did not use flotation up. Traction and axe for the North Face Couloir (I connected the NE ridge with the upper 30% of the couloir or so). Last stretch to Castle summit traction and an axe were helpful. Traction helpful on upper Conundrum. Axe for a proper glissade off the saddle. I finished the glissade at 9:15 AM and temps were super warm in the basin and the entire way out so flotation helpful to mandatory soon. Road was real sloppy on my way out. Beautiful day! A few groups were headed up the North Face Couloir while I was on Conundrum - if that was you I have some shots of you climbing it. 
Route: North Face Couloir
Posted On: 2020-05-18, By: LSUExplorer03
Info: We were able to make it up the Couloir, no problem. But about 3/4 of the way up there is a ~100 foot section that was very thin and we were basically climbing up snow covered talus. There were a few people climbing up behind us, so we had to be very cautious with each step to make sure not to dislodge any rocks. I'd be surprised if the couloir lasts much past this coming weekend (5/23/2020), especially with the warm temps forecasted for this week. 

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