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First class 2, any advice?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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First class 2, any advice?

Postby ethanc41 » Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:04 pm

Hello. In a few days I am going to be climbing my first class 2 (Castle Peak NE ridge). Although I have climbed a few other mountains before, they were all either class 1 or with a guide. I am going with a friend but he is doing very little to learn the route. Anyways, I was wondering if anyone had any advice about climbing a class 2, I'm a little nervous about taking a wrong turn or just climbing off the route. Thanks :-D

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Re: First class 2, any advice?

Postby Dancesatmoonrise » Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:13 pm

Your peak list has not been entered yet, so I don't know much about your experience.

However, as a general statement, I would say this. When I did the 14ers, I started from the bottom (easiest) and went up (to the hardest.) I took one foray onto a more difficult peak because friends were going, and thus broke my rule. I made mistakes which could easily have been fatal. And I'd had many years of rock climbing, backcountry skiing, and orienteering experience.

My advice is twofold:

1. Do not underestimate these mountains; and
2. Do not start in the middle.



Edit: I meant, do not start in the middle of the list. Bill has a list on this site with easiest to hardest. I found it very helpful when I did the 14ers.
Last edited by Dancesatmoonrise on Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: First class 2, any advice?

Postby Liquid Shadow » Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:16 pm

ethanc41 wrote:Hello. In a few days I am going to be climbing my first class 2 (Castle Peak NE ridge). Although I have climbed a few other mountains before, they were all either class 1 or with a guide. I am going with a friend but he is doing very little to learn the route. Anyways, I was wondering if anyone had any advice about climbing a class 2, I'm a little nervous about taking a wrong turn or just climbing off the route. Thanks :-D


I haven't done Castle yet but from the looks of it, there are some parts where the route isn't 100% clear. I think the most important thing to keep in mind actually applies to class 1 through 5: situational awareness. Always know where you need to get to, and where your car is. Study the route down to the detail, be able to playback the route in your head with your eyes closed. I find it helpful to divide longer hikes into smaller sections in your head. Carry a GPS if you have one.

From personally experience, class 2 definitely will wear out your legs, poles can help A LOT coming down a class 2. Also make sure your shoes are sturdy. Weaker shoes will get messed up quick on those rocks.

Hope this helps and climb on!

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Re: First class 2, any advice?

Postby TallGrass » Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:21 pm

Read up on TRs and conditions like http://www.14ers.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?t=40988&p=495697#p495697. Some snug leather gloves (sun and abrasion protection) and trekking poles are nice too, IMHO. Everyone takes to this stuff differently, so be mindful of your comfort and experience levels as well as conditions present while remembering that anything you go up you'll have to come back down. Haven't done C&C, but looks like it'd be hard to get lost. You can also look for a climbing partner.
Not sure if I'll do more 14ers. The trip reports are too tiring. :wink:

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Re: First class 2, any advice?

Postby JROSKA » Mon Aug 05, 2013 2:07 am

I don't feel that the route-finding was overly difficult. Most of it, you're just walking up a road. The only thing that I had a little trouble with (last September) was the section just past the end of the mining road at 12,800 feet, where there is usually a permanent snow-field. By last September, after a "down" winter for snow, it had completely melted out. So we had to find our own route through some of the rocks, and eventually we found a few markers. But we never felt unsafe, or lost.

The other thing I'd point out is, there is a little bit of exposure up on that ridge. It's not extreme, it's very fleeting, I didn't think that it was a big deal, it's over very quick, and basically you're just walking very close to it, but it is there. Since this is your first Class 2, just make sure that's something that you and your hiking partner will be comfortable with.

Lastly, I'd try to encourage your friend to make sure that he does a little bit to learn the route. In situations where route-finding is challenging, or you feel that you might be lost, it's always better to have two people working together, as opposed to one person leading, and the other, following.

I tend to agree with "Dancesatmoonrise", in that it's probably best not to start in the middle, in terms of difficulty, but I can see both sides of that. I took a co-worker out to Uncompahgre for his first 14er a few weeks ago, and he loved it. Challenges are always good. But just understand that with a mountain like Castle, which is at the upper end of Class 2, you need to exercise more care and caution than most Class 2's. If you follow that guideline, you will be fine.

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Re: First class 2, any advice?

Postby Tornadoman » Mon Aug 05, 2013 6:37 am

Castle is definitely a middle of the road 14er. There is some loose rock and some steep sections, due to this it might not hurt to bring a helmet in case there is rockfall. Like others have said, the trail is easy to follow, so you shouldn't have a problem staying on route. If you decide to go over and do Conundrum as well, I strongly recommend going back over Castle's summit rather than taking the shortcut down the saddle between the two peaks. I observed a group of 3 guys downclimbing that area and they were trundling rocks and having extreme difficulties. I talked to them at the top of the road and they said that "route" was terrible and they were scared to death and thought they were in big trouble. Good luck!

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Re: First class 2, any advice?

Postby ORION » Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:21 am

I agree with tornadoman's post. Castle is by no means an "easy" class 2. Still, if that's the mountain you've decided on, I would ascend and descend the northeast ridge. Some say the ridge borders on class 3, but at least it's fairly solid rock. The descent via the saddle (without snow) is steep, loose, and uncomfortable. With snow it's better, and with the right conditions it's a fun glissade....although I wouldn't have done it without crampons and an ice axe.

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Re: First class 2, any advice?

Postby GeezerClimber » Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:26 am

Castle is definitely one of the harder class 2s but it is interesting and there is no reason someone with a few class 1s under their belts can't do it. Once you reach the end of the road, the summit is in view almost all the time so it is hard to get lost. The talus slope right after the road ends and the final pitch are the worst parts. There is a cairned route through the talus that is worth finding but no big deal if you don't. Once above that, look for the trail up through the scree on the left side of the basin and it is straight forward after that. Once on the ridge, there are a few spots of borderline class 3 on solid rock with minor exposure. The last pitch is steep, a bit scruffy and somewhat loose. Just take your time. You will not be as fast as you are accustomed to on class 1s.

Dave

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Re: First class 2, any advice?

Postby Scott P » Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:31 am

Castle is certainly doable for someone with your skill level, but it's highly recommended that you take someone more experienced with you on such routes.
I'm slow and fat. Unfortunately, those are my good qualities.

Re: First class 2, any advice?

Postby twhalm » Mon Aug 05, 2013 10:58 am

If you have never done a class 2 peak I would not recommend Castle. It is a fun peak but it is definitely a hard class 2! It is quite straight forward until you get to the ridge where you do have to do a bit of route finding. If you have never had to do this I would not attempt it on Castle for the first time.

In addition, all class 2 routes are not all made equal. The difference between Torreys Peak class 2 and Castle peak class 2 is distinct and make sure you know what you are getting in to.

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Re: First class 2, any advice?

Postby Tony1 » Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:12 am

If Castle is your first class 2, I recommend going with someone who has done it before to lead you and let you get experience with the terrain type. Unless you have studied the route and are confident and comfortable with what you are getting into - such as making sure you stay on the ridge and do not follow the trail where it deviates down and to the right (and eventually up a steep, slick orange gully. Guilty here). I took 2 friends up Castle last month as an intro to "Class 2+ and up" peaks and it went very smoothly.

The views from the summit don't hurt either. :-D

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Re: First class 2, any advice?

Postby ethanc41 » Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:15 pm

Thanks for the help! I'm still probably going to do Castle, but I'm going to try out an easier class 2 first, probably Mt.Massive or La Plata Peak.

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