Peak(s):  Castle Peak  -  14,265 feet
Date Posted:  06/27/2011
Modified:  06/28/2011
Date Climbed:   06/26/2011
Author:  vorticity
 Castle -- Still 80% Snow for 5 Miles Up  

Spivey, his brother, and I climbed Castle on Sunday 26 June 2011. We started the 10 mile round trip at 3:30 AM an summited around 7:30 ... back to the car at noon or so.

-- We were surprised to find exceptional designated camping spots available just a 0.3 miles from the first crossing of Castle Creek. We camped at a flat shady spot complete with fire pit at 39 01.074N, 106 48.781W

-- We scouted the road on Saturday evening and chickened out at the Castle Creek crossing at 10,100 feet (39 00.912N, 106 49.010W). In better light we could see the water is not too deep, but it is hammering down the mountain ... crossing saves you about 0.4 miles on foot
10,100 Feet. Will your vehicle make it?

-- Road has intermittent deep snow from 10,400 feet on, but where there was not snow, there was a LOT of water rushing down the road. Could ruin your day if you start out with wet feet. We managed to stay fairly dry. Daytime shot here when we were on the way down
Much of the Road is Like a River

-- We got to the bowl in total darkness by following our GPS track. Had we to do it over, we would have donned crampons earlier and cut the corner directly to the bowl to the west and kept off the "road" completely.
Conditions Will Change Rapidly

-- I actually went up to the right side of the bowl (about 40 degrees) on crampons with an ice axe. I was considering climbing directly up to the saddle (see the snow on the right), but then thought the better of it and followed the trail the Spivey brothers took. We climbed the bowl about 5:30AM and could not have done it without crampons. By 9:00 AM on the return, the snow was softer and might have supported kicking in, but it's a long way down without any way to arrest yourself. I recommend both crampons and an ice axe
Our Route to the Trail Required Crampons

-- The trail up to the ridge line was easy to see and in reasonably good shape. There were a few spots with scree, but all in all, it was an uneventful hike all the way to the ridge.
Ridge Trail: Snow Free and Good Shape

-- Here is another shot of the trail to the ridge line, then high on top to get to the summit approach
To The Top

There are some Class 2+ (maybe 3) moves as you get to the ridge. Route finding was a little challenging in places. You want to keep looking up. We saw very few cairns.
Some Class 2+ Moves Along Here

-- The Final pitch from standard route (last 100 feet vertical) has a snow cap that must be climbed to gain the summit. Early, it is frozen and like climbing stairs. Not sure what it will be like once mushy, but probably dangerous. Very steep talus.
Some Snow on the Summit Base

Like Stairs When Frozen

Award winning view from the top.
Closer View of Summit Snow Obstacle.

- We did not do the traverse to Conundrum, but saw two guys climbing a 1000 foot vertical chute from the bowl. If you know who they are, please have them contact me for photos.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Nice TR
07/02/2011 02:45
Great photos - looks like you had fun! I did Castle/Conundrum on Tues 6/28. I believe the ”vertical chute” on Conundrum you saw climbers on from Castle is the Conundrum couloir (deft cleft left of the summit). The max angle is somewhere between 45-50 degrees and is about 700 vertical feet high.

Happy climbing,


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