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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2016-08-24||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Started from lowest carpark (end of bitumen road), as we had a 2WD rental. We got to the boulder field/basin below the summit to find 1-2 inches of new snow. Two other parties were in front of us. Both turned back along the ridge where it gets rough and exposed. We ended up doing the same. There was just too much ice and snow, making it really unsafe without crampons and none of the 3 parties had them. Night-time snow can melt the basin rocks during the day, but that south ridge edge doesn't get direct midday sun. It's been partially melting each day into ice that's getting overlain with new snow each day this week, I think.
|2016-08-20||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: We parked at the very bottom of the trailhead (first parking lot) and it took us 8 hours RT. A 2WD car will not make it far and there were quite a few 4WD cars parked before the Pearl Pass/Castle Creek junction. On the route: the rock towards the top was a tad slippery due to some snow the night before. I would actually have called this class 3 climbing but I also just went straight up and made no effort to route find. I would recommend bringing a helmet for the descent on the saddle between Castle and Conundrum. The rock is very loose and every step disrupts the dirt/rock and sends it down the saddle. If there is a party above you they'll be shooting rocks down your way.
|2016-07-28||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Hiked in from lower TH. Took about 10 hours round trip. Only snow on the route was on my decent of the Castle-Conundrum saddle. But, catch is the snow is only on the lower half of that descent. Like walking on ball bearings before I reached the snow. Looks like most other hikers who did the two peaks chose to go back up Castle again and take the long way around. That's not a bad idea! Definitely quicker the way I came down but not fun.
|2016-07-24||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Almost entirely dry for the entire Castle/Conundrum route. The descent from the conundrum/Castle saddle has melted out a lot. Not much steep snow left, and the what is left of the glissade path is filled with lots of rather large and sharp rocks. Which I found out the hard way. We went up hopeful to get a quick descent, but at this point the dropping from the saddle to the basin was probably the toughest/most annoying part of the day. Plan on dealing with a good amount of loose dirt and rocks.
|2016-07-24||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Didn't take a picture of it, but probably the last weekend to glissade off the saddle. Snoe coverage was thin and contained many rocks just below the surface. Otherwise peaks are in prime summer condition.
|2016-07-16||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: The Montezuma road is clear of snow all the way to the 4x4 parking. It is possible to summit without ever touching snow. The snow that is there is like concrete and has a lot of dirt and rock on top of it. No traction required. The trail to Conundrum is also clear of snow. The saddle coming down from Castle and Conundrum is still filled with Snow and made a great slide down couloir
|2016-07-08||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: There is snow from about 12,800 to the upper basin. Microspikes are recommended, but it's possible to get by without them. Castle's Northeast Ridge is dry from the upper basin to the summit. North face couloir on Castle is entirely melted out. Conundrum couloir is still in, but conditions look very rough. We saw four skiers descend the couloir, and afterwards they said it was really choppy and had lots of ruts from the melt/freeze cycle. The Castle/Conundrum descent from the saddle requires a short walk down on loose dirt and sporadic snow before reaching a section where the route necks down above the large continuous snowfield. Ice ax is needed if descending from the saddle. Otherwise I highly recommend resummiting Castle. We were able to glissade nearly the entire slope.
|2016-07-07||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: There are plenty of reports here to get an idea of the conditions, but I wanted to add a word of caution to someone reading these before you go. I read the last few years of reports, and everything leading up to the day I tried to climb (July 7th) and read all the posts that say you didn't need traction or an axe. That's just wasn't true if you wanted to be safe. Just past the end of the road where you climb up into the basin around 12,500ft, you could scamper over very sketchy avalanche debri that you could actually hear shifting underneath you by 9:30am, or climb up the 400ft bank of snow. No, you wouldn't die if you slipped in the snow but anytime people say you can glissade down that means that going *up* will require an axe and crampons or yak trax at a minimum. Otherwise yes you could slip and slide all the way down. I watched 4 experienced climbers slowly pick their way up the scree field left of the snow bank and it took them an hour to climb a few hundred feet. Maybe it's changed in the last 2 weeks, but in my opinion the safest and easiest way up was the snow bank with some traction and an axe.
|2016-07-05||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: The first creek crossing was not very high and I was able to park my Jeep Compass 100 yards after the foot bridge just before the fork of montezuma basin (right) and pearl pass road (left) . I was at the end of the road by 530am snffi made my way into the basin of castle and conundrum. It was early so I never post holed once and the route became snow free as soon as you start climbing up on yo the ridge. I summited at 7 am and hiked down to the saddle of castle and conundrum for a nice glissade down. You have to hike 20 yards down from the saddle before you hit the snow line and then you can sit down and slide down. An ice axe was very helpful for the glissade. I was back home and in bed in Aspen by 930.
|2016-07-04||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Leftover snow blocking the road up the basin around 11,800ft. With the warm weather, should be gone the end of the week, if not sooner. Some snowfields to cross on the way up to Castle but not bad in the morning. Little bit of postholing before noon. With the recent rains, some wet dirt and mud to contend with on the route. I slipped twice, once bruising my tailbone and another tearing up my hand trying to grab a handhold. Ugh!
|2016-07-03||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: We watched a Tacoma start to float trying to cross a fast and deep Castle Creek (@ 10,200 feet) fed by flash flooding the night before. Pretty much everyone chose to park before the creek after seeing that and continued on by foot across the foot bridge. By afternoon, the creek was passable by vehicle again......be smart if there's been recent precipitation; it's not worth the risk to cross in your SUV and get swept away. About 1.75 miles after the Castle Creek crossing at 11,400 feet, a 10' long section of the 4x4 road has been completely washed out by the flash flood creating another small creek that needs to be crossed. To cross the flash flood creek area by vehicle, I'd say a 2-3" lift on a Jeep/Truck/SUV and 32" tires will be necessary until the road has been repaired (assuming you don't want to do damage and are an experienced jeeper). Passing the flash flood area on foot without getting wet was a challenge, but this should get better over the coming days as the water dies down. The rest of the road up to the parking area at 12,800 feet is in pretty good shape with only 1 snow bank still crossing the road. Above the parking area at 12,800 feet, there is still quite a bit of snow on your way up to the saddle. Micro spikes and ice axe are helpful, but not necessary. The route beyond was slick from recent snow, but still in good, Class 2+ shape.
|2016-07-02||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: It can be a bit tricky to find the main route up. Once you clear the river, fr102 leads 95% of the way before a small but impassible snow field. Once you've reached the end of the road you'll want to head for rocks surrounded by a snow field on each side as opposed to the class 3 scrambling available on the left. After you get out of the ampitheater, its snow free. We wanted to glissade from the saddle, but the snow was not solid and the drop looks 'extreme'. it didn't seem safe. Once back in the ampitheater the snow was much better. we dropped ~1000 feet in 10 minutes with the butt slide! in excellent condisionts.
|2016-06-25||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: The 4wd road is clear to the last big switchback before the end of the road. After that switchback, there is a small, but impassable snowfield. The road was 99% free of snow and what there was was mostly, but not totally avoidable on foot. The ascent from the end of the road up into the basin still has a lot of snow, but today, the snow was soft on top and hard underneath, even in the afternoon, so it was a pleasure to climb. Very little post holing, and good foot grip. We had traction, but it wasn't necessary to use. The ascent from the basin to the ridge, and everything beyond, is free of snow. Castle, Conundrum and the connecting ridge can be climbed without setting foot in snow. However, the saddle in between the peaks does have snow all the way down into the basin, and it made for a great glissade. Conditions were great and almost everyone on the mountain took advantage of the great snow conditions to get down quickly. It was also possible to take a second glissade from below the small lake, most of the way to the end of the 4x4 road.
|2016-06-24||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: I ascended Conundrum Peak via the conundrum coulouir, which is currently in great condition. I found crampons very useful after the bench at the end of the road at 12,840' and an ice ax is definitely required within the coulouir. The large cornice which guards the top is easily avoidable by climbing up steep snow on the right side. A short scramble to the left will take you to the summit. It might also be enjoyable to go right and climb the second summit of Conundrum Peak. I descended the south ridge of Conundrum, ascended the Northwest Ridge of Castle Peak. From the summit of Castle Peak I descended to the small lake between the two peaks on a well worn trail with gentle swtichbacks. The traverse from Conundrum to Castle Peak is mostly snow free and the descent route is completely snow free until you reach the snowfields near the lake. A moderate glissade took me back to my campsite at 12,840 feet. I parked on the Castle Creek Road just below the 10,820' road junction (and after the small bridge) the afternoon before and hiked to the end of the road to camp. The only thing that went wrong was significant rodent damage to the car. Hoses were completely chewed through, causing a complete drain of engine coolant. I strongly recommend some kind of rodent deterrent if you park here (mothballs, rat poison, etc).
|2016-06-19||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Started at 4:30 from a dispersed camping spot below the creek crossing. Road from the creek crossing almost snow free outside of a few sections. Ice axe and micro-spikes used to ascend into the upper basin. From that point the standard route up to Castle Peak is snow free until the final pitch. Included a picture to give an idea of the conditions. Route over to Conundrum Peak snow free as well except for a few small sections that were avoidable. Fun glissade back down. Back to my site at 11:30. Happy to answer any specific questions.
|2016-06-12||Route: North Face Couloir
Info: Better late than never. Hope this report, even though its 5 days old, help people make decisions this weekend!! This last Sunday, I climbed Castle and Conundrum via the North Face Couloir. Started the hike at 5:20AM from the creek crossing. I'll list conditions in bullet form. I needed Crampons/Ice Ax, never put on snowshoes. - Creek crossing was running high. Road accessible to 1 mile above creek crossing. Intermittent snow drifts from 1 mile on road to a little past the Pearl Pass junction, where snow became deep and had fuller coverage. - Hiking the road up was variable conditions. Snow was easy enough to cross, with some minor postholing in the deeper drifts, but lots of stable crusty snow out there. At some point above Pearl Pass Junction, road became completely covered in running water. See photo 1! Shortly after, the road ducks under some avy debris and is easy to lose. Above here, the road varies between tough to find under snow, with long exposed stretches. This holds up to 12,600. - From 12,600 to 12,800, if you've managed to follow the road, it crosses a completely covered slope. Otherwise, you'll probably be coming up the valley just to the climber's left of the road. Snow conditions through here were again good with minor postholes. - Headwall was really nice kickable snow shortly after 8AM. I took the right path up the headwall, and put in my own boot pack. Very supportable snow. See pic 2. - Pic 3 is Castle viewed from the upper basin - Pic 4 is the standard route viewed from below. - Pic 5 is Conundrum from the upper basin. Note the cornice on the conundrum Coulour. - Crossing to the base of the couloir was more of the same. Crusty snow with minor postholes. The couloir itself at 9AM had excellent snow. Still hard and frozen, and I was able to use another booter on the way up it. Best snow of the day was in the couloir, which had good coverage. Pic 6 is the Couloir. - Summit ridge up from the couloir was some of the worst snow I've seen. Chest/neck deep postholing and flailing through a bowl of Icee consistency snow. - Ridge to Conundrum was almost completely dry, and almost all snow could be avoided with careful route finding and Class 3 willingness. Pic 7 is Castle from Conundrum. Pic 8 is Conundrum summit pitch. - Glissade down to the tarn what quick and joyous! Contouring around the tarn went very well with more firm snow, and the headwall glissade was also excellent. - Hike out was uneventful. I took the valley instead of the road, as many did. Be warned though, a 5ftx5ft area of snow collapsed under my weight into flowing water while hiking out. Hope this helps! Conditions are changing super rapidly, so take all this 5-day-old info with a pound of sat.
|2016-06-05||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Early birds get the worm! The snow becomes wet at 8:30 - even up to the saddle between Castle and Conundrum. Snow conditions before 8:30 were perfect for getting up the snowfield(s)- light freeze overnight. Most avalanches (small scale) have already gone off- still potential though, so be early. As far as driving conditions go: though it is possible for cars to cross the river, the road is snowed over shortly (~400m) after the river.
|2016-06-03||Route: North Face Couloir
Info: Good News, Bad News. There was a good freeze last night which made the ascent pretty special. The bad news is that at 10:30 am, everything below 13,300 was mush. Post hole hell, regardless if you have skis or snowshoes. There is a considerable amount of avy activity on all aspects but north.
|2016-05-29||Route: Conundrum Couloir
Info: Summited Conundrum via Conundrum couloir and traversed to Castle and descended Castle's north face couloir. Both couloirs are stable as of yesterday, but if you are planning on conundrum anytime soon get there as early as possible. There is a cornice at the top of conundrum couloir that will likely be crashing down during a warm afternoon. The north face couloir of Castle is in great condition and would make for an excellent ski.
|2016-05-28||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Castle Creek Rd is clear up to the first bridge crossing. The road is only accessible by snowmobile after that. Lots of snow and drifts cover the way up to the basin.