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Castle and Conundrum - Crevasse?

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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Re: Castle and Conundrum - Crevasse?

Postby Presto » Fri Sep 03, 2010 8:58 am

We've always just branched off of the road (you descend just a tad to cross a creek) when we are right across from the start of that ridge, and then go for it. I don't recall any cairns marking anything, but the route is really obvious from the road. Sorry, but don't know the exact elevation.
As if none of us have ever come back with a cool, quasi-epic story instead of being victim to tragic rockfall, a fatal stumble, a heart attack, an embolism, a lightning strike, a bear attack, collapsing cornice, some psycho with an axe, a falling tree, carbon monoxide, even falling asleep at the wheel getting to a mountain. If you can't accept the fact that sometimes "s**t happens", then you live with the illusion that your epic genius and profound wilderness intelligence has put you in total and complete control of yourself, your partners, and the mountain. How mystified you'll be when "s**t happens" to you! - FM

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Re: Castle and Conundrum - Crevasse?

Postby Phill the Thrill » Fri Sep 03, 2010 9:04 am

Thanks, we'll take a look at that when we do this hike on Monday. If it's solid class 3 that sounds a little more entertaining.
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Re: Castle and Conundrum - Crevasse?

Postby fleetmack » Fri Sep 03, 2010 12:08 pm

Phill the Thrill wrote:Thanks, we'll take a look at that when we do this hike on Monday. If it's solid class 3 that sounds a little more entertaining.


i'll also be up there on monday with 2 ladies, if you see me be sure to say hello, i'll have on a blue golite pinnacle pack
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Re: Castle and Conundrum - Crevasse?

Postby Scizzo » Sat Sep 04, 2010 6:16 am

I was on Castle/Conundrum two weeks ago and saw the crevasse you are referring to. It should be easy to avoid without any issues. The decent from the saddle was a little loose and sketchy, but I didn't think it was that bad... just be sure to take your time. Once I got below the cliff bands I veered left and stayed high above the lake and remaining snow. You should be able to stay on scree, dirt and rocks the whole way. About three quarters of the way back to the headwall there is an area where the snow extends higher up the slope - this is where you'll find the crevasse. It's probably 20 feet long and 5 feet deep (to the water). The crevasse was easy to avoid by staying high on loose rock and traversing to the other side.

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Re: Castle and Conundrum - Crevasse?

Postby nyker » Sat Sep 04, 2010 4:28 pm

It appears as though I won't need to bring my axe and crampons this week and the standard NE ridge route to do both? Can someone confirm whether the standard route is clear or if it might be a good idea to bring them?

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Re: Castle and Conundrum - Crevasse?

Postby ConPar » Sat Sep 04, 2010 5:08 pm

I was there a few weeks ago and saw the crevasse.
A man, said to be a geologist, told us that the rock in the high basin is sitting on a glacier, and that as the glacier slowly melts, the rock loses its support and creates very large, and relatively shallow sinkholes. The rock inside the sinkhole drops a few feet and creates a circular crevasse as shown. If this theory is accurate, imagine walking in that area when it drops. :shock:

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Re: Castle and Conundrum - Crevasse?

Postby Scizzo » Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:01 am

nyker wrote:It appears as though I won't need to bring my axe and crampons this week and the standard NE ridge route to do both? Can someone confirm whether the standard route is clear or if it might be a good idea to bring them?


No, you don't need an axe and crampons. I was able to stay on rocks and scree almost the entire way. There was a small snowfield heading up the headwall from the end of the road, but it can be easily avoided. I would leave the axe/crampons behind and save the weight.

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Re: Castle and Conundrum - Crevasse?

Postby centrifuge » Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:51 am

I will post photos tonight and a TR tomorrow, but thought this would be worth mentioning on this thread. There really is a substantial crevasse that runs pretty much the entire width of the snowfield below the Castle/Conundrum Saddle. I will let Kelly elaborate on the geology of it (since she is a geologist and talked a lot about what we were seeing) but from photos I have seen, it is actually growing. *if* you choose to descend from the saddle, you can avoid the crevasse, but as it has extended into what appears to be rock until you get to a point that you have to cross what looks to be a rock covered bridge. In order to get to the 'bridge' so that you can get to an area the is a shallow enough angle that it is navagatible (if that is a word) on the loose rock you have to get fairly close, and traverse a slope that slid under me and sent an awful lot of rock sliding the 10 feet into the crevasse. Its certainly interesting to see one that close, but was not a good feeling to watch the rocks you just stood on slide into it. This was the only reasonable way Kelly and I found to get around it. There were a lot of people up there, but I don’t know if anyone else descended from the saddle and found a better way around it.

On another point, going back over Castle takes more time, but might be worth it anyway. Without snow, the rock is ridiculously loose, and it is virtually impossible to keep from causing rockfall. Without a helmet (which I was glad I had thrown in my pack just in case), the potential rockfall hazard alone would be a good reason to stay off that slope.
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Re: Castle and Conundrum - Crevasse?

Postby centrifuge » Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:01 pm

some photos of the problem areas:
bit less dirty crevasse very small.jpg
a zoomed in photo of the larger crevasse, if you look closely you can see icicles hanging down
bit less dirty crevasse very small.jpg (235.93 KiB) Viewed 983 times

dirty little crevasse super small.jpg
the smaller crevasse that extends into the scree and rocks
dirty little crevasse super small.jpg (344.57 KiB) Viewed 985 times

castle crevasse very small.jpg
the area circled in red is all crevassed
castle crevasse very small.jpg (180.68 KiB) Viewed 1008 times
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Re: Castle and Conundrum - Crevasse?

Postby MountainHiker » Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:25 pm

I'm concerned a snow storm could cover that thing just enough someone could fall in. Pictures from different years show you can't depend on where it will be.
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Re: Castle and Conundrum - Crevasse?

Postby centrifuge » Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:46 pm

MountainHiker wrote:I’m concerned a snow storm could cover that thing just enough someone could fall in. Pictures from different years show you can’t depend on where it will be.


Part of the reason I wanted to post this, despite having seen at least to other threads covering this topic (the earlier one and then: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=21060&hilit=castle+sinkhole) is because it looked very much like this was not the only area of instability. There were a number of sections that I was not at all happy about crossing because they were sunken and looked like they could be areas of potential collapse. The area we crossed between (one opening, and one significant depression) may have been a bridge. Aside from that, with the looseness of the rock, it is entirely possible that someone attempting to cross the short distance above could easily fall in if the scree were to shift only a short distance.

Regardless, this could be a significant danger for anyone who is careless around this series of hazards, and is worth paying attention to.
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Re: Castle and Conundrum - Crevasse?

Postby jsype » Mon Sep 13, 2010 5:18 pm

I agree with others who have recommended reclimbing Castle's summit Last year we witnessed a group of 3 almost buy the farm when they fell/slipped on the scree,leading down to the snowfield and crevasse. They were definitely shaken when we met them at end of the jeep trail in the basin. By the time they got down, they had saved no time descending from the saddle compared to our trip up and over the summit. Be careful...
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