At the end of June last year, Ben and I went for the Conundrum/Castle double. We had a great ski on Conundrum, but got turned around on Castle because it wasn't just getting too warm, it was getting too HOT that day. Redemption on Castle Peak has been on my short list ever since, and today we were able to finish what we started last year. Joel joined Ben and I for round 2 with the Castle.
We camped at one of the campsites along the road last night (under a beautiful moon) and got started around 4:15am this morning. The road is completely dry until about a quarter-mile past the first stream crossing. From that point forward its pretty much all snow (although you can skirt around it in some spots). I kept my trail shoes on until the headwall at 12,800, then switched to boots. Ben and Joel chose to skin most of the way.
The snow didn't get a great freeze overnight, but booting it up the couloir was made a little easier by whoever kicked in some steps a few days before. After the three of us went up the north couloir, there is now a great staircase all the way to the summit!
Winds were relatively light at the top, and we were able to ski directly off the summit along the ridge / over the east face, then drop into the north couloir. The snow in the couloir was variable, but soft enough to get some purchase on your turns. After skiing the couloir, we were able to ski some great corn in Montezuma Basin, and then down along the creek all the way to 10,500 feet! We switched back to trail shoes there, and it was a 10-15 minute walk back to the campsite.
Get this one now, because there is enough snow on the road to let you ski almost everything that you hike!
Campsite #6 on the FR102 road
The Elk Range starting to wake up
Looking back from the headwall
First full look at Castle
Joel reaching the upper basin
Ben reaching the upper basin
Good sized cornice up top, as usual
Looking east from the top of the couloir
Ben topping out on the couloir
Joel approaching the top
Jake reaching the summit
Joel on top of Castle
Jake at the summit
Ben taking in the views from the top
Joel making it work off the top
The first couple turns over the east face were the most exposed
Ben dropping into the couloir
Ben and Joel skiing the lower half of the couloir
Ben skiing in the basin
Absolutely gorgeous day
Some great corn skiing was had on the way out