Peak(s):  Castle Peak  -  14,265 feet
Conundrum Peak  -  14,060 feet
Date Posted:  08/12/2009
Date Climbed:   08/09/2009
Author:  gpeoples
 Castle/Conundrum Loop - 1st Trip to Elks  

Route: Northeast Ridge
Start Time: 7:30am
End Time: 1 pm
5.5 hour round trip
Over 3000ft of elevation gain:

Drive in on the Castle Creek Rd. until you reach a wooden roadblock and road closed sign, 12.7 miles. I saw a large porcupine when driving down the rd at 6am, gave him his space. You will only be able to drive this twisty road at 35 - 40 MPH, this early in the morning. So plan accordingly if not camping.

The lower river crossing and bridge were not a problem. The bridge as stated in other reports was fixed and is very stable.
I parked up the hill from the bridge and right off found that one of my tires was about to go flat. Found out later that I had picked up a nail from my trip. So instead of hitting the trial at 6:30ish as planned, I had the enjoyment of changing the tire on my Land Rover. Good thing I was on a level area or it would have been a problem for me.

Started the hike at 7:30am with some new friends, Jake, Patrick, and Hobie. As it turned out, hiking with this group was a lot of fun. We were able to keep a good pace the whole way.

Route after the 102 road ends. See the faint blue line we hiked.

In the boulders on the Castle Peak trail.

Looking at Castle Summit in background from upper trail.

Looking back at the upper Route to Castle

Castle Peak Summit

Once we topped out on Castle, I left my new buddies for a short while to do Conundrum. I was the only one that brought an Ice Axe for the glissade from the saddle. It took around 40min to go from Castle to Conundrum at a quick pace. My goal was to meet back up with the group on the CO 102 heading back to the trucks.

Conundrum Route and Summit

Summit of Conundrum

Shot of Castle in background from Conundrum Summit

Was able to make good time off Conundrum because of the glissading to the sink hole. I wouldn't have done the glissade without my Axe, it is just to easy to get out of control because of the steepness of the snow field. It would have also been better to have better grip, I was wearing my trekking shoes and slipped at the bottom.

Exit Route down the snowfield

Hiked over the crevasse twice, once to get to the rocks so I could stop slipping around on the snowfield, and then a second time to climb the small bank. You can see the basic route I took in the Picture. No worries on my part, I went through a lot harrier places on Mt. Rainer, so it wasn't an issue for me, but this isn't an area you want to spend a lot of time around.

Shot from 102 Rd.-14ers are around the left corner from the waterfall out of sight.

When driving home out the Castle Rd., there was a large amount of cyclists on the Rd. so be prepared to weave around them. I passed at min. 50+ on the short drive back to Aspen.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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