Peak:  Castle Peak (14er)
 Route:  Northeast Ridge
 Range:  Elk
 Posted By:  usfgal
 Date of Info:  10/15/2011
 Date Posted:  10/16/2011

FR 102 was fine. We made it to the junction in a jeep with no problem. A Toyota truck made it all the way to 12,400', below Montezuma Mine and 1/2 mile from the end of the road. The hike up the road had some snow, but you could avoid most of it by walking on the side (and the snow is not deep). When you hit the basin, there is snow and rock, and the snow is deep in some places. You don't need anything, though. We only postholed a handful of times. The slope is a mix of snow and rock. We climbed/traversed higher than the route, b/c the route looked like it had more snow on it. Really dumb... The rock is loose and that slope is not a place to take a bad slip. I'd recommend following the route. When you hit the upper slope and then the ridge, it is mostly snow covered, and it is great. I put on my microspikes for traction and had no trouble. My husband was fine in his boots, as was another climber we met. The ridge is pretty exposed with the snow and a ton of fun. There were one or two moves toward the end that were slightly challenging, but not horrible. The route between Castle and Conundrum is in great shape. There is some snow, but it is easy to navigate and we had no issues. The descent from the saddle is awesome. The entire area is full of deep snow, with one rock outcropping. The descent was easy and fun and you can glissade down a lot of the slope. I had a blast out there, minus the loose rocky section. I'd recommned traction and an axe, but I don't think they are absolutely necessary.

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