Our trip started out on Saturday (6/30/2012) when we found a fantastic camp spot about a mile up the road. This one was empty and happened to have its own pond. Beware, though - lots of flies and mosquitos!
Campsite near pond about a mile up
The next day (7/1/2012) we got a 5:45am start which was great because it bought us a lot more time in the shade on the long road up to the lake at 12,800.
last portion of the road near the lake
Just above the lake was a small snowfield that others had used. We decided to try this ourselves and found it very amenable to some easy stomping. We did not need any yak tracks or microspikes to do this.
1st snow field
We chose to cross up a second snowfield, after which the trail continued on the right onto the rocks and then eventually returned to the left hand side where the ascent to the ridge is made.
near the end of the snow fields, peak in view
The ridge is fairly doable, but you just have to take a little care in some spots. Towards the very end of this ridge, however, there is one particular feature that I would like to point out (if this is the only thing you gain from this trip report, then mission accomplished!) Basically, in the last push towards the top you will see two large clumps of rocks. When I did this peak last year, I went straight up this portion even beyond the second clump and tried like hell to figure out how to get up the last stretch through some weird dark chute of rock. It looked too iffy for my taste to try to climb alone. I wasn't planning on doing Conundrum that day, but it appeared that everyone else was. So getting the assistance of a fellow hiker to get up this thing did not guarantee me the ability to get back down considering just about everyone who had passed this was long gone towards Conundrum afterwards and would not be coming back this way. I tried the scree from here over to the left and found that I didn't like it much better. Long story short, I scrapped my summit. My big mistake was going too high on this part rather than just taking a left at the second clump of rocks where the scree seemed to be much more doable (although still a little slippery there, too.) It's not to say the other route isn't doable, it just wasn't my route of choice for the level I'm at in my hiking.
Route of opportunity
But this time we made it, and the summit offered some tremendously rewarding views!
Nice views to the south east
Views of Conundrum
After summiting around 10:45am, we spent about 20 minutes at the top and then started to head down. Here is a fun view from the ridge at about 14,000 looking back down on the trail.
Fun view down from the ridge
The best part of this peak? Sliding down snow in July!!! Much fun to say the least. ;-)
All in all, a great hike with tremendously beautiful views and fascinating geology. It was worth coming back a second time to make it to the summit!
sliding down the snow!!