Castle Peak

Condition Updates  
Route: Northwest Ridge
Posted On: 2023-05-29, By: jfm3
Info: I climbed Castle after Conundrum. My original plan was to descend the saddle to the base of the North Face Couloir, then take the couloir to the top. I decided instead to just go up the ridge from the saddle with Conundrum. The snow in the couloir was still cold and somewhat firm at 10:30 AM (several skiers waited for it to soften) but the extra time required to climb it would have had me wallowing in the lower basin on the descent. Beyond 11 AM, the snow can't be relied upon for continuous support. The ridge from the saddle is dry. From the basin it looks snow-covered, but all that snow is just drifts/cornices hanging over the east side. No crampons or ice axe required to go up the ridge from the saddle. I descended the standard route, which is dry below the top of the North Face Couloir. The final bump between the top of the couloir and the summit is still covered in snow. I descended using an ice axe but no crampons. There is one rock tower about 5 feet high that is tricky with the snow. Below the headwall, the snow was warming quickly. I sank in only a few times but there was a lot of slough and plunge-stepping. I found the dusty snow to be more supportive than the fresher, whiter snow. I used snowshoes from the Pearl Pass junction down to the end of the snow at 10,500 feet. They weren't absolutely necessary, but I carried them up both mountains and wanted to avoid any extra aggravation at the end of a long day. 
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2023-05-28, By: rhammond530
Info: There are intermittent snow patches between the Castle / Conundrum saddle and the summit of Conundrum that make passage a little spicy. An ice axe was useful, but we did not need crampons to get across. 
Route: North Face Couloir
Posted On: 2023-05-26, By: gotpow
Info: North couloir still looking good, continuous snow from summit to ~10,500'. Some sluff debris but no slide debris. Northerly aspects still have cold, white snow, but much of Montezuma Basin is very dusty, early start helpful to avoid wallowing in manky snow. 
Route: North Face Couloir
Posted On: 2023-04-24, By: dsr80304
Info: Some ski beta... Castle - We climbed and skied the North couloir on 4/23, the first totally clear day after a couple days of storming. The couloir is surprisingly shallow in the main gut (rocks and that dust layer), so best to get into the gullies skiers left. Snow was stable. We didnt go the last 100' to the summit, a lot of unconsolidated snow and was warming up. Conundrum - A group skied it the day before (4/22) so a bootpack is in on the right side. Lots of wet avy activity on the exit, some that crossed the skintrack, so be wary - but yesterday/today probably the height of this storm's wet avy cycle due to sun and warm up. 
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Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2022-10-31, By: Jimmy Jay
Info: Turned around at 13,700 because the combination of deep powder at the ridgeline made it tough to find solid footholds on the loose rock. Parked at 10,600, broke trail the entire way up with flotation. 
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Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2022-10-25, By: Paddy6069
Info: Between 4 inches and 12 inches of fresh powder on the road. Turned around at 12000 feet as we were unsure of the wind loading up high. 
Route: Conundrum West Ridge (Conundrum Hot Springs Route)
Posted On: 2022-10-16, By: Veory
Info: Despite an imposing amount of snow visible on Castlearba during the approach, the west ridge of conundrum only had short sections of snow on it, but I approached the basin from further south than the hot springs approach, which looked like it may involve crossing several small snow fields. Lots of fairly loose scree to get up there and a little thick bushwacking on my chosen ascent, but the ridge itself was rather pleasant. A screenshot of my topo showing my ascent, approximate descent, and the reference 'standard' approach from the hot springs from youngk2844's trip report. Ridge up to Castle from the saddle was the snowiest part, and required some careful footing if not wearing microspikes (I would bring them if you're unsure, I did but didn't end up putting them on). Looks like the standard route was pretty snow-free from the summit. Only saw 3 other people at the summit, and unsurpsingly nobody on the route itself. From the footsteps in the snow it looks like one other person was there last week or so. Probably one of the clearest days I've been out as the La Sals were visible (~130 miles away) in the distance. 
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2022-10-14, By: zcrennen
Info: Snow free up until 12,800 where the road ends. Consistent 2-4 in deep snow up castle, with an easy to follow trench. Almost no snow on conundrum, couilor is bone dry. Descent from saddle was mostly snow free and choss. Made it about 1.5 mile up the road in a Volvo SUV, ~11 miles 7 hours. Highly recommend microspikes, although my buddy did it without them. Ice axe/crampons are overkill. 
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2022-10-09, By: Dignus
Info: Road is dry to 12,800 feet, then loose unconsolidated snow as soon as you enter the basin. One large rock gave way beneath me on the initial climb up from the 4WD parking area and I took a short tumble (I think I was slightly off route). Snow on most of the ridge but the scrambling maneuvers are still pretty clean and easy to get up. Stashed my poles just below the summit of Castle and they were gone when I came back. Backside of Castle pretty slick, then when the ridge flattens out the snow is avoidable most of the way to Conundrum. Spikes and gaiters recommended. I did not glissade down the couloir but some other guys did, so that way is apparently doable if you've got an axe and skills to use it. 
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2022-10-11, By: Jirwindisc
Info: Great hike up from lower lot. Up at upper parking and higher there was snow on the ground and happy for traction. Got to the ridge line at 14,000 and the ridge had a bit more exposure than we wanted without an ice axe so we bailed on it, but another did head across. Will try again Friday with gear. 
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2022-09-25, By: Habret
Info: Completely ice-free on the route, including the traverse to Conundrum. Rock was very solid above 13,700'. The descent from the saddle was very loose, but was greatly facilitated with a couple of good trekking poles. Aspens are beginning to peak, so get there while the weather is good. 
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2022-09-06, By: colingoodman
Info: The route info on here seems to need updating. It (GPX track + Bill's photos) suggests you hug the Southeast side of the lower basin, however (unless I missed something) the Northwest side is substantially more traveled and well marked. The former is not dangerous or anything, just requires more effort to maneuver across. 
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2022-09-03, By: brodiecr11
Info: Agree with everything that was said in the last update. We could hear rocks beelining down the mountain every 5 minutes because of the snowmelt. With good line choice the Outback we took made it to the creek crossing. I also want to recommend making sure that no one is above you when descending the Conundrum gully, because there is loooottts of rockfall inside it and it's steep as b*lls. Maybe less of a dangerous area for getting hit by rocks than Little Bear, but definitely more crumbly than Little Bear. Views were amazing!! And the lake is virtually free of ice. 
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2022-08-30, By: ngreenster13
Info: First and foremost, I get the recommendation for 4WD/high-clearance vehicles, but had no issues in my Crosstrek getting up there to about 11,700' before I was tired and didn't feel like continuing to drive in the dark. If you are confident in your driving, you can definitely pull it off with a Subaru-esque car, but definitely sketch enough where one wrong choice is bad news. Anyways, no snow at all, took Conundrum Gulley down and it's as loose and crappy as everyone says. I was practically surfing on dirt for 500'. Beautiful day in the mountains. 
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2022-08-16, By: Outbounder
Info: LOST a pair of black and gray ladies c9 gloves, as seen in this picture. If you find them I'll pay you to ship them. Thank you! 
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Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2022-08-08, By: csf-lhiver
Info: Started at 4:32 AM from Montezuma Mine (see Castle Creek Trailhead report). It felt like cheating starting from there as it was only 3.50 miles hiking round trip, but it made for a fun sunrise hike. The ascent was solid, couldn't see where I was going until getting into the upper basin. I followed the GPX route on the Combo route description which helped me make sure I'm going the right way. Went and grabbed some 13k high point to the left once gaining the ridge. Then went for Castle. The ridge is pretty solid rock wise. 
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2022-07-27, By: scott_s
Info: 2 small snowfields to cross shortly past the end of the road. Microspikes helped a lot but probably aren't absolutely necessary. Route is dry everywhere else. The descent from the Castle-Conundrum saddle is mostly snow free (see photo, sorry it's so blurry) but it's doable if you're comfortable on steep loose terrain. I tested the snow field briefly on the descent but it was slushy and slippery and I found the scree/talus to be easier. 
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Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2022-07-25, By: bodhi1971
Info: Standard Northeast Ridge route for Castle and Conundrum combo. Still a small snowfield to cross in the beginning to get to the trail. Trail is clear all the way for both peaks. Came down the gully (standard exit route) on the Castle/Conundrum ridge on the way back from Conundrum to avoid having to go back over Castle. Scrambled through the scree/talus and stayed left in the gully until I hit snow. Brought a helmet, axe, poles, and micro spikes and used them all. You could probably do the gully without them, but I would hate to slip and take a fall, even when the snow softened mid morning there was no stopping without some type of tool when I slipped. The Conundrum Couloir is run out into a talus scree field at the bottom and would be a difficult climb at this point. Drove a stock Toyota 4Runner Pro with no lift all the way to the end of the road and camped at 12, 800 prior to the climb. The road is absolutely doable if you pick a good line, but definitely not for the faint of heart. 
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2022-07-13, By: fancyco
Info: Most of the route can be done while avoiding snow, there were two snow crossings on the headwall one of witch could be avoided. the glissade down the saddle is not in great condition, the first 50 or so feet is an incredibly loose and steep mess that was quite dangerous if someone was above you, but when you get to the snow it mellows out a bit and it makes for a decent glissade down 
Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2022-07-08, By: mtgoatmike
Info: From the end of the road at 12,500ft you encounter multiple snowfields up through the headwall. Traction is recommended if doing this section before it softens up. You can avoid the snowfields by skirting around on rocks, but the snowfields are definitely the more direct route. After the headwall the trail is snow free all the way to the summit. The glissade off the saddle was doable, don't know how much longer. Rocks were poking out through the entire run out...I tore 2 holes in my pants. 

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