Castle Peak  
Report Conditions Information   Photos  Comments       
2016-06-25  Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2016-06-25, By: Lindyhapa
Info: The 4wd road is clear to the last big switchback before the end of the road. After that switchback, there is a small, but impassable snowfield. The road was 99% free of snow and what there was was mostly, but not totally avoidable on foot. The ascent from the end of the road up into the basin still has a lot of snow, but today, the snow was soft on top and hard underneath, even in the afternoon, so it was a pleasure to climb. Very little post holing, and good foot grip. We had traction, but it wasn't necessary to use. The ascent from the basin to the ridge, and everything beyond, is free of snow. Castle, Conundrum and the connecting ridge can be climbed without setting foot in snow. However, the saddle in between the peaks does have snow all the way down into the basin, and it made for a great glissade. Conditions were great and almost everyone on the mountain took advantage of the great snow conditions to get down quickly. It was also possible to take a second glissade from below the small lake, most of the way to the end of the 4x4 road. 
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2016-06-24  Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2016-07-01, By: mountain_gallivanter
Info: I ascended Conundrum Peak via the conundrum coulouir, which is currently in great condition. I found crampons very useful after the bench at the end of the road at 12,840' and an ice ax is definitely required within the coulouir. The large cornice which guards the top is easily avoidable by climbing up steep snow on the right side. A short scramble to the left will take you to the summit. It might also be enjoyable to go right and climb the second summit of Conundrum Peak. I descended the south ridge of Conundrum, ascended the Northwest Ridge of Castle Peak. From the summit of Castle Peak I descended to the small lake between the two peaks on a well worn trail with gentle swtichbacks. The traverse from Conundrum to Castle Peak is mostly snow free and the descent route is completely snow free until you reach the snowfields near the lake. A moderate glissade took me back to my campsite at 12,840 feet. I parked on the Castle Creek Road just below the 10,820' road junction (and after the small bridge) the afternoon before and hiked to the end of the road to camp. The only thing that went wrong was significant rodent damage to the car. Hoses were completely chewed through, causing a complete drain of engine coolant. I strongly recommend some kind of rodent deterrent if you park here (mothballs, rat poison, etc). 
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2016-06-19  Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2016-06-21, By: bryan-whitesel
Info: Started at 4:30 from a dispersed camping spot below the creek crossing. Road from the creek crossing almost snow free outside of a few sections. Ice axe and micro-spikes used to ascend into the upper basin. From that point the standard route up to Castle Peak is snow free until the final pitch. Included a picture to give an idea of the conditions. Route over to Conundrum Peak snow free as well except for a few small sections that were avoidable. Fun glissade back down. Back to my site at 11:30. Happy to answer any specific questions. 
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2016-06-12  Route: North Face Couloir
Posted On: 2016-06-17, By: Corey17
Info: Better late than never. Hope this report, even though its 5 days old, help people make decisions this weekend!! This last Sunday, I climbed Castle and Conundrum via the North Face Couloir. Started the hike at 5:20AM from the creek crossing. I'll list conditions in bullet form. I needed Crampons/Ice Ax, never put on snowshoes. - Creek crossing was running high. Road accessible to 1 mile above creek crossing. Intermittent snow drifts from 1 mile on road to a little past the Pearl Pass junction, where snow became deep and had fuller coverage. - Hiking the road up was variable conditions. Snow was easy enough to cross, with some minor postholing in the deeper drifts, but lots of stable crusty snow out there. At some point above Pearl Pass Junction, road became completely covered in running water. See photo 1! Shortly after, the road ducks under some avy debris and is easy to lose. Above here, the road varies between tough to find under snow, with long exposed stretches. This holds up to 12,600. - From 12,600 to 12,800, if you've managed to follow the road, it crosses a completely covered slope. Otherwise, you'll probably be coming up the valley just to the climber's left of the road. Snow conditions through here were again good with minor postholes. - Headwall was really nice kickable snow shortly after 8AM. I took the right path up the headwall, and put in my own boot pack. Very supportable snow. See pic 2. - Pic 3 is Castle viewed from the upper basin - Pic 4 is the standard route viewed from below. - Pic 5 is Conundrum from the upper basin. Note the cornice on the conundrum Coulour. - Crossing to the base of the couloir was more of the same. Crusty snow with minor postholes. The couloir itself at 9AM had excellent snow. Still hard and frozen, and I was able to use another booter on the way up it. Best snow of the day was in the couloir, which had good coverage. Pic 6 is the Couloir. - Summit ridge up from the couloir was some of the worst snow I've seen. Chest/neck deep postholing and flailing through a bowl of Icee consistency snow. - Ridge to Conundrum was almost completely dry, and almost all snow could be avoided with careful route finding and Class 3 willingness. Pic 7 is Castle from Conundrum. Pic 8 is Conundrum summit pitch. - Glissade down to the tarn what quick and joyous! Contouring around the tarn went very well with more firm snow, and the headwall glissade was also excellent. - Hike out was uneventful. I took the valley instead of the road, as many did. Be warned though, a 5ftx5ft area of snow collapsed under my weight into flowing water while hiking out. Hope this helps! Conditions are changing super rapidly, so take all this 5-day-old info with a pound of sat. 
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2016-06-05  Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2016-06-07, By: Scarlet0Hara
Info: Early birds get the worm! The snow becomes wet at 8:30 - even up to the saddle between Castle and Conundrum. Snow conditions before 8:30 were perfect for getting up the snowfield(s)- light freeze overnight. Most avalanches (small scale) have already gone off- still potential though, so be early. As far as driving conditions go: though it is possible for cars to cross the river, the road is snowed over shortly (~400m) after the river. 
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2016-06-03  Route: North Face Couloir
Posted On: 2016-06-03, By: Nelson
Info: Good News, Bad News. There was a good freeze last night which made the ascent pretty special. The bad news is that at 10:30 am, everything below 13,300 was mush. Post hole hell, regardless if you have skis or snowshoes. There is a considerable amount of avy activity on all aspects but north. 
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2016-05-29  Route: Conundrum Couloir
Posted On: 2016-05-30, By: alyssacait23
Info: Summited Conundrum via Conundrum couloir and traversed to Castle and descended Castle's north face couloir. Both couloirs are stable as of yesterday, but if you are planning on conundrum anytime soon get there as early as possible. There is a cornice at the top of conundrum couloir that will likely be crashing down during a warm afternoon. The north face couloir of Castle is in great condition and would make for an excellent ski. 
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2016-05-28  Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2016-05-29, By: STIBungy
Info: Castle Creek Rd is clear up to the first bridge crossing. The road is only accessible by snowmobile after that. Lots of snow and drifts cover the way up to the basin. 
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2016-05-23  Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2016-05-23, By: kushrocks
Info: We climbed Castle and Conundrum early this morning. No one is getting more than 20 feet past the creek crossing at the moment unless you are on a snowmobile but 4 wheel drive cars can reach the creek crossing. Starva said the round trip from there was 9.4 miles. As the previous conditions report stated there was a lot of avy debris on the approach. Having said that however we found nothing but solid snow all morning. We started at 415am summited conundrum by 8am and were back at the car by 1030 so we may have had more solid conditions since there was a good freeze the night before. We brought snowshoes but never put them on once only potholing a few times. We wore microspikes the entire time although up higher there a few spots where crampons would have been nice but we felt comfortable continuing since we had our ice axe. The last photo is of the colour since I know a lot of people are looking for info on that. Sorry that is the best photo I have. We didn't climb up it but it looked like there was a lot of avy debris in it although you can still see ski tracks of someone who has come down since then. If you are a skier this looks like heaven. Unfortunately I am not but several epic glissades were had. 
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2016-05-22  Route: North Face Couloir
Posted On: 2016-05-23, By: capetrekker
Info: Plan A was to climb the north face couloir, traverse across to Conundrum, and descend the northeast ridge. Plan B was to climb the northeast ridge, traverse, and descend our way up. Neither plans were an option yesterday. The Avy danger is significant throughout Montezuma Basin and clear Avalanche activity was prevalent on almost every aspect. I reached ~13,500 and decided to turn around after seeing the conditions of the basin. I witnessed 2 groups of skiers on the summit who ascended the NW ridge, which is doable, but crosses significant avalanche terrain. Significant avalanche debris is in every ski descent on Castle and Conundrum Peaks 
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2016-04-25  Route: North Face Couloir
Posted On: 2016-04-26, By: JakeK
Info: Skied the North face of Castle yesterday. Conditions were packed powder in the north couloir. Snow is continuous to the road closure at Ashcroft. Didn't have crampons with us so we didn't climb/ski Conundrum, but the couloir looked really smooth. 
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2016-04-24  Route: Castle Creek Rd
Posted On: 2016-04-26, By: WillRobnett
Info: Gate still closed, 1.7 miles from the lower Castle Creek trailhead. 
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2016-01-10  Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2016-01-10, By: Yikes
Info: Summited Castle and Conundrum today. Snow seemed very stable. Trench available (until the next snow or high wind) 
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2015-10-31  Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2015-11-01, By: vdavidoff
Info: I only made it to ~13,850. There were a few factors but the biggest was that the route felt unsafe to me once it got onto the loose rock and "difficult class 2" parts at that elevation. My level of exhaustion, gusty wind (~30mph to place a guess) and slippery snow/ice all played a part in my decision to to turn back. The rest of the ridge, namely the approach that is pretty much straight up the northwest face, was doable and safe but in my unprofessional opinion this approach will be dangerous avy territory come the next snow. The entire face was heavily wind scoured and the surface was a slab a few inches thick (this was true of many aspects, including parts of the road above ~12,200, and the head wall). I think its safe to say I was hiking on the "persistent weak layer" that is so often the cause for avy concern in CO. YMMV, but if I try again this winter, itll be the couloir route. There wasnt enough snow on any of the slopes flanking the road to concern me WRT avy danger. I took a switching route up the head wall that I had not seen described anywhere. Ultimately there are of course many ways up, but Im attaching an annotated image of approximately what I did (the two people in the image skinned up past me and did something similar, but switched back more often). I used microspikes until ~11,400 then switched to snowshoes. Without snowshoes lifes going to get uncomfortable, at least in spots, by ~11,800. I ascended the northeast ridge until the point where the route cuts to follow the ridge line in showshoes, then switched to microspikes. I dont see how itd be possible to do the rest of the route in snowshoes, but I also didnt summit. The tire tracks visible in photo 7 were made by a Polaris RZR, the only vehicle I saw beyond the Pearl Pass junction. It took me about 7.5 hours to reach 13,850, and about 10.5 hours RT (9.9mi). More pictures and some videos, one showing wind gusts while on the head wall, here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewdavidoff/albums/72157660603004466 I also updated TH status: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/threport.php?recnum=4538 
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2015-10-25  Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2015-10-26, By: Jeremy Bauman
Info: Sunday went up to do some skiing on Castle. Thought Id post some picture. In a pretty sweet rig, we drove to about 12,5. 
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2015-10-11  Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2015-10-12, By: tobiasfunke
Info: Snow in the boulderfield in patches that can be avoided from the start at the upper TH to the upper basin and lake. Once on the ridge snow and ice are present in some of the steeper terrain, so microspikes are definitely advised. 
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2015-09-27  Route: Passing through the area
Posted On: 2015-09-27, By: WillRobnett
Info: PEAK fall colors at Castle Creek Trailhead! 
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2015-09-24  Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2015-09-26, By: hokiehead
Info: Summitted Castle and Conundrum on Thursday 9/24. No snow on route -- that‘s not a great thing. Descent down Conundrum from the saddle (I guess that‘s Castle‘s NW Ridge) was terrible on loose, steep scree and dirt. Think Bross x10. Give some thought to going back over Castle and descending the NE Ridge, or skipping Conundrum. Beautiful out there this time of year. Full TR to follow. 
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2015-09-05  Route: Northeast Ridge
Posted On: 2015-09-05, By: Fr3ako
Info: Was supposed to be a sunny and windy day, we just felt the strong and cold winds. Above 13k, visibility was very poor and ridge was wet & slippery with latest accumulation of fresh snow. We decided to skip Conundrum this time as we could barely see the path from Castle summit and started quite late (7am). Plenty of people summited though but it was rainy when we were down to the switchbacks. 
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2015-08-30  Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2015-08-30, By: bdloftin77
Info: Above the 12,800 ft TH at about 12,900 ft, there are some snowfields, but you only have to cross about 20-40 ft before you‘re on dry rock again. There‘s also a dry rock patch crossing the snow, if you decide to lose some elevation to take that instead. The snow was firm in the morning, and only a little slippery at midday. No other snow issues. Descending via saddle vs back over Castle: After Conundrum, myself and two hikers who joined me tried to decide whether to go back over Castle, or to go down the saddle route. We decided to go down the saddle. It is fairly steep, but doable. The way I went, stepping on/holding onto solid rocks buried in the hillside, I faced inward a few times. It‘s more dirt near the top, and more small loose rock near the bottom. If I had to do it again, I‘d still probably go down that way, as it saved a lot of time and elevation gain vs going back over Castle Peak, even waiting 10-15 minutes as courtesy for the two climbers below me to clear the bottom. If you‘re comfortable "climbing mountains," the saddle is fine. But as a fellow hiker said, I wouldn‘t want to take my mom down that route. It was dry.. no snow or water issues. 
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