| Castle & Conundrum and a glissade
Sorry for posting this with a little bit of delay, I have been out of town and I did not get to write my last reports on time.
We were planning on camping at the TH of Castle and Conundrum but we heard the campsites were closed that weekend due to bear activity. So, we decided to camp near Independence pass, we hiked for a mile and a half to Weller Lake and spend the night there. If you have not been here I highly recommend it, we were the only ones camping out there that day, compared to the crowded campgrounds in the area.
So, the next morning we hiked to the car and drove to the TH of Castle and Conundrum. We stopped at just below 11,200, after that the road becomes rougher and we did not want to push it.
Started hiking around 8am. The road was just a walk up to the end of the 4WD road at about 12,800.
Pretty soon the upper basin becomes visible. You can see some hikers, on the right side of the pic below, walking on the road.
Below the upper basin right at the steep slope covered by snow. You can also see some hikers in the snow.
Looking back at the trail above the upper basin.
A nice view of Conundrum Couloir.
The last few feet to the top of Castle peak, you can see several hikers along the route.
We reached the summit at 10 am. There were a lot of hikers up there that day!
Got some nice views of the Maroon Bells. Alby426 was giving shots of Tequila to everybody, way to go!
After spending about half an hour on top of Castle peak, Conundrum was the next target:
A view down to the upper basin.
The ridge was pretty easy to follow and free of snow. This picture looks back at Castle Pk from the trail to Conundrum.
Made the top of Conundrum in about 40 minutes.
This picture looks at the standard route that we followed to Castle peak, it is a nice one since you can see the trail and even some hikers coming up (that late?).
Clouds were starting to form, so we decided to head down (after another shot of Tequila of course! Thanks Alby426! ).
Here is a picture that Ben took of us in the snow cornice on top of the couloir.
We went down the snow covered slope from the saddle with a group of hikers. The snow was not as soft as we would expect it and there were rocks, so we had to be careful going down. An ice-axe was required in my opinion, although we saw some people that were not using it. At the end of the glissade there is a frozen lake, you would not want to fall into it!
Looking up at the slope.
And the second snow slope just below the upper basin where you can see us sitting down and just letting the snow do its job. Thanks Ben for the picture, it was nice meeting you!
We were back to the car at around 2.30, drove down and stopped at the Pine Creek Cookhouse for a well deserved cold beer.
Overall it was a nice and easy hike, especially fun doing the glissade down from the saddle.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):