Peak:  Castle Peak (14er)
 Route:  Northeast Ridge
 Range:  Elk
 Posted By:  jswim123
 Date of Info:  09/24/2011
 Date Posted:  09/26/2011

The route was in fairly good condition up until beginning the ascent onto Castle's Northeast Ridge from the upper basin, around 13,400 ft. For the next ~300 vertical feet, the trail was covered in snow/ice but was easily doable. With care, it could be done without traction devices. From about 13,700 to 13,900, however, the route has some high class 2 moves on a north-facing slope where the recent snowfall and ensuing melt-freeze cycle has covered most flat surfaces with ice. The route is passable with use of careful footing and strong hand-holds, but isn't in great condition. From 13,900 to the summit, however, the route is on more sunny aspects and is in good condition.

The traverse to Conundrum was in good condition, the snow wasn't much more than a mild nuisance. The descent from the Northwest Ridge down into the upper basin is extremely loose and almost impossible to descent without sending significant amounts of rock down the slope. One can glissade down that slope starting about 1/3 of the way down from the Castle-Conundrum saddle; the new snow has settled in a 2-3" layer on top of the old suncapped snow and provides for a safe glissading surface. The lower snowfield that approaches the top of the road was in similar condition.

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