Well, this trip didn't go as planned, but another wonderful day on Colorado's 14ers.
I left the Denver area early Sunday morning expecting to head up Maroon Creek by early afternoon. By the time I hit Frisco, the weather was just downright bad, almost made a turn around at this point because the forecast didn't look much better. I only have 5 14ers left and the planned Bell Cord and North Maroon summit called my name.
I met up with my cousin Ryan in Glenwood Springs and we both didn't like our options, after a bite to eat and some conversation, we both decided a soggy backpacking trip was better than a night on the couch, so we preceded to Aspen.
Ryan didn't have a good feeling about the conditions and attempting North Maroon, and I was starting to second guess our decision as well. We left our options open, and decided to shoot for Castle and Conundrum. This would be my second time attempting these peaks, but I'm happy with whatever.
Castle Creek Rd/Pearl Pass
Castle Creek Rd
Lots of run off going up Castle Creek Rd and the waterfall by the bridge was quite impressive. We parked at the Pearl Pass turnoff and backpacked up to 11,400 where we found a great little campsite.
Campsite with a view
It rained on and off all night and I thought we would be lucky to summit any 14ers on this trip. Neither of us slept much but after a 5am alarm and the rain still falling on the tent, neither of us were quick to get out of our bags.
Shortly after sunrise, the rain cleared and we started to see blue skies. Oh Joy!
After sunrise it cleared nicely
With a 6:15am departure, we were quick to make it to the first snowfield. After a little break for gaiters, crampons, water and food we made our way up to the ridge.
The snow wasn't great, but wasn't bad either. The rain and the warm night made the top few inches slush, but the snow pack below was stable and good.
heading up the snowfield
Once we made it to the "bowl" we cut across and started a steady accent up to the ridge connecting Castle and Conundrum. As we headed up the clouds came to meet us and it wasn't long before we were standing on the ridge.
Almost to the ridge
In and out of the clouds we began to work our way up to the summit of Castle Peak. The rock was loose in spots, but overall the trail is very easy to follow.
A few hundred feet below the summit
Just after 10am we made the summit. Not much of a view as we were in the clouds the entire time. Glad the last time I was up there you could see forever.
Castle summit shot
We didn't stay long on the top as we didn't like the weather. We both knew it could turn bad in a hurry and we didn't want to take that chance. Down the ridge and over to Conundrum we went. It wasn't long before we were standing on the summit.
Heading up the ridge to Conundrum
Conundrum summit shot
By 11am we were back down to the ridge and ready for some extreme glissading. The snow was pretty wet by now, but the pitch was around 30° at the steepest part. Ryan went first and I went after. The glissade was great and we were addicted. We hit 3 more glissades until we were well below the road. Most fun I've ever had coming down a 14er!
Ready for the glissade of a lifetime
The trip was bittersweet and even though I'm still five shy, I had a great time and safe trip in Colorado's grand mountains, who am I to complain.
A little video I made of the trip:
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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