|Peak:||Castle Peak (14er)|
|Route:||North Face Couloir|
|Date of Info:||06/12/2011|
Snow is solid to walk on for a 140lb person, becoming icy from repeated freeze and thaw on approach to castle couloir. Sun has melted pot holes in the snow which make hiking with regular footwear tedious in places. Still lots of snow on approach. Only bare places are random rock outcroppings. (Photos 1 and 2)
Couloir has lots of snow, no bare places yet. Snow is thick, heavy, wet. Becoming slightly icy due to freeze and thaw. In early morning, snow still easily bore the weight of a 140lb person with gear and it was possible to kick in steps that held for multiple people.
By 10am, snow was softening, and kick steps did not hold their shape well. Snow is still thick and becomes slick. (Photo 3)
Top of couloir has lots of snow, which is not obviously corniced but care should still be taken.
Summit push from couloir is snow covered on the left of the rocky ridge which is exposed. (Photo 4)
It was possible to climb the snow to the left of the rocky ridge but by 10:30 snow was getting wet and not holding its shape. Downclimbing from summit on this snow required greater care as the snow became slippery and with foot misplacement it would be easy to slide down the snow on the exposed side.
It was still possible at 1030am for skiiers to ski down both the summit and the couloir. Many chose to decend via the castle/conundrum saddle.
Standard route decent starts dry, but ridge is a rock/snow/ice mixed climb. Extra care should be taken. After ridge, side of mountain down from ridge is dry (scree).
It is possible to glissade many times once off the ridge and down from the scree.
Conundrum ridge to Conundrum summit was sketchy from snow and ice (second hand information, other skiiers).
Photos (click for slideshow):