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Castlebra from Conundrum Hot Springs

Colorado 13er questions, conditions, and other info should be posted here. Also includes topics related to 13ers.com. 13er Trip Reports
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Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2009 9:42 pm
Location: Denver, CO

Castlebra from Conundrum Hot Springs

Postby atalarico » Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:02 pm

So, I was just up at the hot springs for the first time this past Monday through Thursday. What an amazing area with a plethora of difficult issues to deal with (e.g. excrement disposal, mice/rodents chewing through things for food, etc.).

I decided to give Castlebra a shot after my partner wasn't able to make it up to the springs in a single push, thus eliminating our rest-day and ability to attempt Castle Peak. The weather was clear all week, so I took off around noon considering I was at the base of the mountain anyway. I heard rock fall frequently throughout my stay, so I knew loose scree was an issue so I studied the map and the mountain and made an attempt.

Yikes, I didn't study hard enough or picked the wrong route. I attempted what appeared to be a line of weakness (read: more gradual slope angle) on the west slope underneath the more vertical rock faces. It was the steepest most unconsolidated scree I've ever encountered. I was setting off fairly substantial rock-slides with one out of every 10 steps. I bailed off to the 4th class cliffs to the right/south and felt a lot more comfortable there. Feeling safer and more confident on 4th/5th class soloing should give an indication of just how scary the scree slope was.

My question is, by what route do people normally climb Castlebra from the Hot Springs? I noticed there was a ridge quite a ways away to the south on the map, and I'm guessing I should have continued further to that ridge before starting up.

It was a disappointing summitless trip back, but the springs and a flask made for a comforting rest activity. =p

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Location: Denver, CO

Re: Castlebra from Conundrum Hot Springs

Postby Marmot72 » Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:37 pm

The route can be difficult to find. I tried in 2005 with a non-climber friend and we strayed south of the hot springs -- which you can find a route, but it is much more difficult. I re-attempted Sept 2011 and found Gerry Roach's route.

You need to strike straight toward Castleabra from the hot spring. You'll find a faint trail that is a shortcut to one of the camping sites and a network of game trails among the willows. When you emerge from the willows, you'll see a scree slope, low angled at first and then the scree just blankets the whole slope. Up higher, you get into some real choss as you enter a narrow basin.

If you want some pics, PM with an email addy and I'll send some.

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