|Peak:||Castle Peak (14er)|
|Route:||Castle and Conundrum|
|Date of Info:||06/15/2014|
Today I climbed Conundrum couloir, followed the ridge to Castle, and descended Castle's northeast ridge.
Snow was well consolidated, firm and supportive, to the point of being icy. When I was in the Conundrum couloir, between 8:20 and 9:50, I began chopping rather than kicking steps half way up, and continued to do so until I reached the saddle between the summits. By the time I descended Montezuma Basin in the early afternoon, the snow had softened substantially, but was still quite supportive.
Conundrum Couloir retains plenty of snow, while Conundrum's ridge to Castle has only a few, easily negotiated patches of snow. (Photo 1)
Castle's northwest ridge is almost completely devoid of snow. (Photo 2)
Castle's north face couloir contains climbable snow, but it is mostly on the western edge of the couloir. The couloir cannot be said to be full of snow as it sometimes is. (Photo 3)
Castle's northeast ridge is mostly dry, but has occasional patches of snow that must be negotiated, and crampons are advisable for the final pitch from the top of the north face couloir to the summit. (Photo 4)
Photos (click for slideshow):