Peak:  Castle Peak (14er)
 Route:  Castle and Conundrum
 Range:  Elk
 Posted By:  scrambling
 Date of Info:  05/30/2012
 Date Posted:  05/31/2012

As far as the road is concerned, trees and snow are not issues. Your vehicle and your fortitude will determine how high you can go. I left my vehicle at a numbered campsite below the stream crossing, making for a very long day.

I ascended Castle via the north face couloir, putting crampons on at the end of the road and finding crunching, firm, continuous snow to within about 50 yards of the top of the ridge below the final pitch to Castle. At that point, crampons came off and no traction was needed for the Castle and Conundrum summits. What snow there is on the summit traverse I found, if anything, helpful. Loose rock is the concern up there, not snow. I put the crampons back on for the descent from the Castle-Conundrum saddle and took them off when I got back to the top of the road. Glissade conditions were good.

Three college-age kids left about the same time as me. They were wearing sneakers and had no traction devices. They arrived at ridge crest at the top of the couloir at the same time I did. What they did was to use open rock areas to ascend the headwall and they crossed snow when necessary via traverses in flat areas to gain the ridge, where there did not appear to be any snow.

I should add that, on the couloir, the snow was great at about 8 a.m. crunchy and firm but not icy. However, it is very thin. Often times the handle of the ax found a rock and/or earth at a depth of 4-5 inches.

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