|Peak:||Castle Peak (14er)|
|Date of Info:||06/08/2013|
For trailhead report, see that; I'll post one, too.
Departed the campsite right before the creek crossing at 5am - felt it was a real late start and hoped it wouldn't be a post-hole fest in the afternoon.
From Castle Creek crossing point, the hike on the road in is mostly dry, some avalanche chute and other persistent drifts still exist and are solid in the morning, softer in the afternoon (Photo 1).
From Pearl Pass Road turnoff to the basin the upper creek has found a second home on the road, rushing to 5-6 inches in depth in the afternoon. Some creative route-finding is necessary in the afternoons to avoid getting totally soaked boots. I anticipate this will lessen in the upcoming weeks, but while a pain - all that water flowing with such force is a beautiful thing.
The road up into the upper basin is drifted over, with narrow dry patches - no tools were necessary until reaching above 12,200' or so. The drift-over on the roads was constant and steeper, microspikes could have worked but crampons were nice (Photo 2). Once above the road, crampons were also nice to have to climb to the upper basin. The conditions of the snow was mostly solid, but to where microspike points may not have been deep enough.
At the start of the NE ridge trail, equipment carried (crampons, snowshoes) were stashed. The ridge is dry and in good condition to the Castle Couloir summit. The Castle Couloir looks to be the route of choice for skiers; plenty of turns were evident. The top 20-feet of the Castle Peak summit crux is snowed in - looks sketchy from afar, but easily passable.
BONUS REPORT - Traverse to Conundrum
The traverse was dry, and chossy, like normal. The summit of Conundrum, for all who don't know, is the FAR summit, past the couloir. The Conundrum Couloir is holding a massive cornice - rather impressive. It was climbed and skied Saturday morning.
DOUBLE BONUS REPORT - Glissading conditions
Apprehensive to glissade from the saddle of Castle/Conundrum at first - no other lines evident. The tarn is melted out and the thought was there that the snow in the basin would be very soft. Went for it anyways. A 2pm glissade sounds like a slush-fest but it was the perfect amount of soft surface to keep the glissade very safe. The basin snow was also firm - no postholing anywhere except for rock edges. Highly recommendable. (Photo 3).
Photo 4 - the creek that is actually the road in the afternoon.
Tools used: Crampons (overkill, microspikes and patience would have worked); Ice Axe; Poles.
Photos (click for slideshow):