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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2014-08-24||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: An upper level disturbance and moisture from tropical system in the eastern pacific gave western colorado below average temperatures Saturday going into today (Sunday). On Saturday, Grand Junction received quite a bit of rain, but most importantly the Elk Range accumulated some new snow starting at 12800 ft. On Castle Peak, the snow in the Montezuma drainage ranged from 1" to 4" the closer you got to the summit, though from the approach, it looked less. In addition the area received some warming sunshine in the early hours of daylight followed by cloudy and very cold conditions. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: above 13,200 ft. conditions became icy and fairly dangerous as the ice gave already loose rocks a false sense that it was more solid than it is. If you are going up in the next couple days, you must be prepared for mid fall like conditions. Only one individual made it to the summit today as far as I know and they had microspikes and warm clothing. On tuesday we are expecting the same pattern to form again with another tropical hurricane and upper level disturbance which could bring more snow. Then a return to warm and dry conditions for the remainder of the week going past the weekend that could bring summer climbing conditions back to castle. Be safe all.
|2014-08-18||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Small snowfields amongst the boulder field heading up the Northeast slopes. I was planning on traversing to Conundrum, but after looking at the suggested down climb into the basin from the saddle I chickened out. It did not look safe at all. The picture attached indicates the suggested descent. In my eyes, most certainly not "difficult class 2".
|2014-07-11||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Path up first basin is still holding snow, but the path up to the high basin is pretty obvious to the left. Folks have taken a variety of routes up to the summer trail above, which is also very prominent once the higher basin is gained. The northeast ridge is totally clear and open, as well as the traverse over to Conundrum. Many folks chose to glut-glissade down from the Cast./Con. saddle which looked terrifying and fun at the same time. HOWEVER, I was really awed and frightened by the rockfall I witnessed from Conundrum‘s ridges which, as it turns out, is right where the descent route takes you back to the main trail. I saw a car-sized boulder tumble down furiously from up high almost all the way to the lake below! Audible rockfall was also a common thing throughout the hike, so just be wary of projectile rocks and those loosened by people hiking above you. This is a common thing in the Elks, I hear, but I thought I would let y‘all know
|2014-07-06||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Climbed Castle Peak 07/06/14. River crossing is in great shape and any 4x4 vehicle should have little problem crossing. Road is passable until 12,500 where snow drifts are still prevalent. Lots of snow in the basin, but it is easily ascended. We took snow shoes and microspikes and never needed either. Excellent glissade off the saddle, but the snow is melting fast and the glissade opportunities will vanish quickly.
|2014-07-05||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: climbed northeast ridge route July 5. Road is passable to about 11,000 where it is washed out. Plenty of snow left in montezuma basin. Some ice lingering on the ridge. ice axe necessary for glissades, microspikes helpful in some places.
|2014-07-03||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Crossed the creeek in a Nissan Frontier pickup but the water was still about two and a half feet deep and running strong. The road into Montezuma Basin is clear to well above timberline but still blocked by snow higher up. Pearl Pass road still snow covered higher up past the turn to Pearl Pass. Snow fields were solid early in the day, getting slushy by mid-morning.
|2014-06-29||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Snow just before the summit was probably the most challenging part of the day, but is melting out fast and may be gone by next weekend. The glissade at the saddle is very bumpy and I highly recommend an ice ax until it smoothes out better. Great glissade and there is snow all the way up to the saddle. Lower creek crossing is passable by normal 4x4 vehicles, but is still running fast. Can drive just above timberline before snow.
|2014-06-27||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: We had a failed attempt on Castle Peak yesterday. I think it is still a little early to climb this one without spikes, and I think everyone in the area knew that but us, as we didn‘t see another soul on the trail. That should have been our first clue. The climb itself wouldn‘t have been difficult but for the snow and ice, and I see why everyone says it is the easiest climb in the Elk range. We made it to about 12,600, crossing about three pretty slick icy patches along the way. Very little traction. There‘s also some pretty deep water you‘ve got to cross due to heavy runoff, so if you attempt, be prepared for that. We decided to turn around after falling knee-deep into the snow and realizing a majority of the ridges we needed to cross to get out of the basin were covered in ice and had no footprints to use for balance. If you attempt this one before the rest of the snow melts, I suggest bringing your spikes and ax.
|2014-06-24||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Still plenty of snow in the area. If you are planning an early start, I suggest bringing microspikes to aid in crossing frozen snow fields covering the road. They were pretty firm and icy this morning, which made for some sketchy crossing with no traction. Once on the NE Ridge, snow free until just before summit. Some postholing on the last 50 ft to summit of Castle Peak. Bring gaitors to keep snow out of your boots. Postholed a bit on the descent as well. Traverse to Conundrum completely dry. Glissade from the saddle is amazing!
|2014-06-21||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Climbed Castle and Conundrum today, via Castle‘s NE ridge. There is LOTS of snow in Montezuma Basin still, but we were fine in just boots. We occasionally postholed on the way out around noon today. The NE ridge is free of snow until just below Castle‘s summit. On Conundrum, there is more snow, but nothing that can‘t be easily bypassed. If you‘re looking for an epic glissade, go down the saddle between Castle and Conundrum. You won‘t be disappointed.
|2014-06-15||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Today I climbed Conundrum couloir, followed the ridge to Castle, and descended Castle‘s northeast ridge. Snow was well consolidated, firm and supportive, to the point of being icy. When I was in the Conundrum couloir, between 8:20 and 9:50, I began chopping rather than kicking steps half way up, and continued to do so until I reached the saddle between the summits. By the time I descended Montezuma Basin in the early afternoon, the snow had softened substantially, but was still quite supportive. Conundrum Couloir retains plenty of snow, while Conundrum‘s ridge to Castle has only a few, easily negotiated patches of snow. (Photo 1) Castle‘s northwest ridge is almost completely devoid of snow. (Photo 2) Castle‘s north face couloir contains climbable snow, but it is mostly on the western edge of the couloir. The couloir cannot be said to be full of snow as it sometimes is. (Photo 3) Castle‘s northeast ridge is mostly dry, but has occasional patches of snow that must be negotiated, and crampons are advisable for the final pitch from the top of the north face couloir to the summit. (Photo 4)
|2014-06-11||Route: East Face
Info: Skied from summit down east face. pretty good snow for first thousand feet, then crappy and s--tty dust infused garbage mixed with some runnels. Getting narrow in spots.
|2014-06-07||Route: North Face Couloir
Info: Climbed and skied Castle via NF couloir. Great conditions, but it‘s getting just a tad rocky/thin. Plenty of snow on the summit. Continued on to Conundrum. TH access: made it to the 1st river crossing in a Subaru. Very large snow drift/avy debris field soon thereafter.
|2014-06-07||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Summited Castle via the NE ridge, went on to Conundrum, and descended via the saddle. Lots of snow up there, but mostly firm, even on the way back (quite surprising!). We used snowshoes on the way back and descended the drainage almost to treeline to avoid traversing back to the road. It was a beautiful snow climb in a gorgeous setting!
|2014-05-17||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: Skied some lines on Pearl pass today. Castle and Conundrum looked amazing!! Original plan was to ski Conundrum, but we slept in. Hoping to head back up in the next couple of weekends, pending weather. One note, saw 3 wet slab avalanches and heard at least 2 more up in Montezuma basin. Pic is view of Castle and Conundrum from 12,000 up pearl pass.
|2014-01-22||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Nice packed trail all the way to the Montezuma Basin turnoff. Past the turnoff the track continues a few hundred yards, snowshoes are helpful at this point. Did not make it further up into the Valley of Death.
|Cool Hand Luke||2014-01-22||0||1|
|2013-10-17||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Road becomes hard pack snow/ice almost immediately after initial creek crossing. There were some manageable but deep snowdrifts on road after Pearl Pass junction to the lower basin. Definitely some dangerous post holing conditions in the basin and beyond (waist and thigh high in some sections). It‘s winter in the high elks! Skis/snowshoes mandatory.
|2013-10-13||Route: Castle and Conundrum
Info: I was up there last Sunday (Oct 13). We parked just before the stream crossing in our fairly new Forester, just because I‘m pretty squeamish yet about driving it on rough roads. At that time, there wasn‘t much water in the stream crossing. We watched a Land Cruiser go thru and it didn‘t even come up past the tires to the wheels. Also, there were tracks in the snow all the way up to the jeep parking area high up in the basin. Some of the tracks showed they had tire chains. There were some slick icy spots in the trees along the way which made me think I might not make it anyway. But we did see a couple of other vehicles make it up to the Pearl Pass turnoff without chains. From the jeep parking area, it looked like a 4-wheeler (ATV) had gone a bit farther. And then there was a skin track that looked at least a day old. There was a good bit of snow and some significant drifting when I started the off-road part of the hike. I didn‘t have snowshoes or skis, just microspikes, and I ended up doing a lot of postholing up to my knees or more when stepping between rocks. After struggling a bit with the snow and getting tired, I ended up turning around. I had been planning both Castle and Conundrum. They were close, but no cigar. Also, it rained quite a bit overnight and into the morning the next day in Carbondale (Oct 14), so I‘m guessing C & C got a lot more snow. pic 1 - just after the creek crossing on Castle Creek Rd pic 2 - at the turnoff to Pearl Pass rd pic 3 - the ATV tracks leaving the jeep parking area pic 4 - the skin tracks heading up to the C & C saddle.
|2013-09-25||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: Lots of snow above the road termination The boulder field was full of snow making travel unsafe, kept postholing deep into spaces between rocks Headwall not able to be ascended for this reason May melt out in several days if no more snow Three groups turned back at this point that day
|2013-09-21||Route: Northeast Ridge
Info: 2 to 4 inches of snow beginning at the steep hill above the end of the road. Microspikes very helpful. Of course this may change tomorrow as more snow is forecast to fall.