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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2015-10-31||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: I only made it to ~13,850‘. There were a few factors but the biggest was that the route felt unsafe to me once it got onto the loose rock and "difficult class 2" parts at that elevation. My level of exhaustion, gusty wind (~30mph to place a guess) and slippery snow/ice all played a part in my decision to to turn back. The rest of the ridge, namely the approach that is pretty much straight up the northwest face, was doable and safe but in my unprofessional opinion this approach will be dangerous avy territory come the next snow. The entire face was heavily wind scoured and the surface was a slab a few inches thick (this was true of many aspects, including parts of the road above ~12,200‘, and the head wall). I think it‘s safe to say I was hiking on the "persistent weak layer" that is so often the cause for avy concern in CO. YMMV, but if I try again this winter, it‘ll be the couloir route. There wasn‘t enough snow on any of the slopes flanking the road to concern me WRT avy danger. I took a switching route up the head wall that I had not seen described anywhere. Ultimately there are of course many ways up, but I‘m attaching an annotated image of approximately what I did (the two people in the image skinned up past me and did something similar, but switched back more often). I used microspikes until ~11,400 then switched to snowshoes. Without snowshoes life‘s going to get uncomfortable, at least in spots, by ~11,800‘. I ascended the northeast ridge until the point where the route cuts to follow the ridge line in showshoes, then switched to microspikes. I don‘t see how it‘d be possible to do the rest of the route in snowshoes, but I also didn‘t summit. The tire tracks visible in photo 7 were made by a Polaris RZR, the only vehicle I saw beyond the Pearl Pass junction. It took me about 7.5 hours to reach 13,850‘, and about 10.5 hours RT (9.9mi). More pictures and some videos, one showing wind gusts while on the head wall, here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewdavidoff/albums/72157660603004466 I also updated TH status: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/threport.php?recnum=4538
|2015-10-25||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Sunday went up to do some skiing on Castle. Thought I‘d post some picture. In a pretty sweet rig, we drove to about 12,5.
|2015-10-11||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Snow in the boulderfield in patches that can be avoided from the start at the upper TH to the upper basin and lake. Once on the ridge snow and ice are present in some of the steeper terrain, so microspikes are definitely advised.
|2015-09-27||Route: Passing through the area
Info: PEAK fall colors at Castle Creek Trailhead!
|2015-09-24||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Summitted Castle and Conundrum on Thursday 9/24. No snow on route -- that‘s not a great thing. Descent down Conundrum from the saddle (I guess that‘s Castle‘s NW Ridge) was terrible on loose, steep scree and dirt. Think Bross x10. Give some thought to going back over Castle and descending the NE Ridge, or skipping Conundrum. Beautiful out there this time of year. Full TR to follow.
|2015-09-05||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Was supposed to be a sunny and windy day, we just felt the strong and cold winds. Above 13k, visibility was very poor and ridge was wet & slippery with latest accumulation of fresh snow. We decided to skip Conundrum this time as we could barely see the path from Castle summit and started quite late (7am). Plenty of people summited though but it was rainy when we were down to the switchbacks.
|2015-08-30||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Above the 12,800 ft TH at about 12,900 ft, there are some snowfields, but you only have to cross about 20-40 ft before you‘re on dry rock again. There‘s also a dry rock patch crossing the snow, if you decide to lose some elevation to take that instead. The snow was firm in the morning, and only a little slippery at midday. No other snow issues. Descending via saddle vs back over Castle: After Conundrum, myself and two hikers who joined me tried to decide whether to go back over Castle, or to go down the saddle route. We decided to go down the saddle. It is fairly steep, but doable. The way I went, stepping on/holding onto solid rocks buried in the hillside, I faced inward a few times. It‘s more dirt near the top, and more small loose rock near the bottom. If I had to do it again, I‘d still probably go down that way, as it saved a lot of time and elevation gain vs going back over Castle Peak, even waiting 10-15 minutes as courtesy for the two climbers below me to clear the bottom. If you‘re comfortable "climbing mountains," the saddle is fine. But as a fellow hiker said, I wouldn‘t want to take my mom down that route. It was dry.. no snow or water issues.
|2015-08-08||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: There is still a bit of snow you have to cross just above the end of the road at 12,800. Spikes aren‘t needed if you take it easy. A trekking pole is a nice addition, ice ax would be overkill. The drop into the saddle for the decent was steep, loose and wet. It looked more intimidating from the Castle trail than it did looking at it from the saddle. Once through the chute, you‘ll have to decide to drop all the way to the lake or cross snow and rocks. We crossed while others tried to glissade down... lots of rocks hidden in the snow.
|2015-08-06||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Ice axe is nice to have if you are not comfortable crossing snowfields. Went up the NE ridge route without traction, used crampons to come down what‘s left of the snow on the NW ridge route to avoid going back over Castle‘s summit from Conundrum. Loose rock and dirt below the saddle, but not too bad.
|2015-08-05||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: I am attempting to climb all the 14ers this summer. This makes #20! You can read more about this hike and others on my blog at sunshineof1985.com! Distance: 16.73 mi. (with added 2.25 mi going the wrong way) Elevation Gain: 4,600 feet Time started: 6:20am End time: 4:10pm Time to Summit: 6 hours and 30 minutes Time to Descent: 3 hours GEAR (to bring): GPS, extra socks, phone, SPOT Satellite Tracker, Yak Trax and poles, Map with Topo print-out, hiking boots with 2 pairs of socks on, long-sleeve, wind-guard/raincoat, light weight puffy coat (didn‘t need), lightweight gloves (didn‘t need), day pack with water sack and extra water bottles(130 oz), food (2 protein bars, 2 granola bars, beef jerky and trailmix), sunscreen, lip balm. Road Condition: Blacktop road and easy driving. Then you get to the dirt road. To the left is a tar road that is closed, to the right, is the road you need to take. I went not even .1 miles, then bottomed out in a pothole. I turned around and decided the road was too bad to drive in any further. If you have a sedan, you could probably make it to the first couple campsites, but make sure you get there early or you‘ll just have to drive back out. Trail Condition: This is my biggest complaint, but it‘s because I don‘t have a 4WD vehicle. Most of the trail is actually on a dumb bumpy dirt road. Only the last 2 miles are where you get into the more fun stuff. There is a lot of snow once you get to the end of the road, so bring your Yak Trax to get traction.
|2015-07-24||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Sweet! These conditions are awesome. I packed microspikes and an ice axe and was hoping to go up the main couloir, but it has finally thinned out and there is now a considerable length without any snow coverage. The main route is free of snow until the first basin, which is the only stretch where you have any snow. Snow was incredibly firm and perfect for walking around 6:00 am with microspikes, I‘m not sure I would want to do this without them still, even though there‘s only one snow stretch it is quite large. After the basin it is snow-free. I did Castle and connected to Conundrum, and then came down to the ridgeline saddle and downclimbed on the snow with microspikes and an ice axe. (the lowest point in the ridge on the 1st picture) The area above where the snow starts was steep and loose, and the snow had some old glissade marks. It was way too firm to glissade for me (would go way too fast and it would hurt) and I also saw several small rocks in the path that I really didn‘t want on my ass. The downclimb took a bit longer than expected because the snow was still exceptionally firm at 9ish, so digging the feet in was difficult. Would have been a breeze with actual crampons. You can see the conundrum couloir still intact in the first pic, it is still possible but I wasn‘t about to attempt it without crampons. View of Castle in the second pic shows how the couloir is now impassible. Some people were trying to ski, but unless you‘re impressive enough to do the whole conundrum couloir, I don‘t see it being worth the effort. The snow was very hard too and many of the basins and the stretch I downclimbed are covered in deep glissade tubes.
|2015-07-13||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: The road in was easily passable for most stock 4wd including the stream crossing though care needs to be taken to avoid some large rocks exiting. Lots of snow still in the basin but is very stable. Spikes not needed. One word of caution, the small snow patch below the summit (pic) had some hard ice between it and the rock step and a slip or fall here would end badly. I found it easier and safer going straight up the face of the rock.
|2015-07-04||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Snow fields starting at the end of the road. Mostly packed and/or icy on the way up. The snow stops near the base of Castle where the climb up the ridge starts. Scattered snow on the ridge to the summit, all avoidable but does make the route more class 3 in parts when avoiding the snow. Very loose (as to be expected) on the NE ridge of Castle heading over to Conundrum--almost pulled a block down at the exact spot that‘s warned about in the route description. There is again some snow on Conundrum‘s ridge but is avoidable. At the saddle, the snow was full in, albeit pretty slushy by about 945am, and we slowly tipped to the edge where the steep decline starts and then glissaded down to the lake. Snow all the way from there down to end of road again.
|2015-07-03||Route: NE Ridge to North Face Couloir
Info: Climbed NE Ridge to upper North Face Couloir for summit - traversed to Conundrum and descended NW Ridge. Water on 4X4 road above second stream crossing. Encountered rain/hail/wind and rockfall on 4X4 road near uppermost parking area around sunrise. Beware of loose and falling rock - narrowly avoided falling rocks that struck road. NE Ridge trail was dry, although some climber‘s trails near ridge line held snow and ice. North Face Couloir snow was great - not too hard or soft - at 7:00am. Traverse to Conundrum is smooth sailing, although part of cornice remains intact on Conundrum Couloir. Descent of NW Ridge snowfield was suboptimal at around 10:00am due to wet and soft snow. We post-holed deeply and brought down wet snow during glissade. Overall, it was a beautiful tour of the Castle basin!
|2015-06-22||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Rapid water at the creek crossing but we saw several Jeeps had made it. After the creek crossing its smooth sailing up to the Montezuma mine. Snow coverage on the road will likely prevent vehicle traffic for another couple weeks. Great snow from from the end of the road up. We carried flotation but did not use it- may be a good idea later in the day.
|2015-06-22||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: The stream crossing by vehicle was a little scary because the water level was high but I made it with my Toyota Tacoma in 4x4 low. There was a lot of snow climbing even at the top. Doable, not too bad. Used ice axes, micro spikes, and gaters. Had an awesome 1,000 foot glissade off the ridge just below the summit.
|2015-06-21||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Most folks parked at the creek crossing. It‘s mid thigh deep and flowing fast, see the attached photo. The couloir is in great condition to climb. Head out early to avoid post holing.
|2015-06-21||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Northeast ridge holds some patches of snow until 13,600 or so, then full coverage by snow until summit. The ridgeline to Conundrum also holds some snow. Snow stayed hard until about 9 am. The snow in the basin was very soft by 9:30, and we started a few postholes. Also by 8 am, warming snow began to drop rocks down the sides of castle. The large cornice over the conundrum couloir has MOSTLY broken off, but enough remains to be dangerous.
|2015-06-20||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Did NE Ridge on Castle Saturday. Started just before the first creek crossing at 3:45. Basin still has plenty of snow, but melting rapidly. Snow on the glissade from the saddle all the way to the botton of the headwall was extremely soft by 10:00. Great meeting everyone who summited around 9:45!
|2015-06-19||Route: North Face Couloir
Info: Great snow from basin to NE ridge. Very "kickable" in some sections, rather hard in others (even though night temperatures did not go below 40 deg F). We took right fork out of the main couloir, as we neared the ridge...gave us high-angle snow, and gained ridge a bit closer to the summit.