Peak(s):  Castle Peak  -  14,265 feet
Conundrum Peak  -  14,060 feet
Date Posted:  07/14/2011
Modified:  07/27/2011
Date Climbed:   07/11/2011
Author:  MountainMatt
 An unplanned hike up Castle and Conundrum  

Well, this trip didn't go as planned, but another wonderful day on Colorado's 14ers.

I left the Denver area early Sunday morning expecting to head up Maroon Creek by early afternoon. By the time I hit Frisco, the weather was just downright bad, almost made a turn around at this point because the forecast didn't look much better. I only have 5 14ers left and the planned Bell Cord and North Maroon summit called my name.

I met up with my cousin Ryan in Glenwood Springs and we both didn't like our options, after a bite to eat and some conversation, we both decided a soggy backpacking trip was better than a night on the couch, so we preceded to Aspen.

Ryan didn't have a good feeling about the conditions and attempting North Maroon, and I was starting to second guess our decision as well. We left our options open, and decided to shoot for Castle and Conundrum. This would be my second time attempting these peaks, but I'm happy with whatever.

Castle Creek Rd/Pearl Pass
Castle Creek Rd

Lots of run off going up Castle Creek Rd and the waterfall by the bridge was quite impressive. We parked at the Pearl Pass turnoff and backpacked up to 11,400 where we found a great little campsite.

Campsite with a view

It rained on and off all night and I thought we would be lucky to summit any 14ers on this trip. Neither of us slept much but after a 5am alarm and the rain still falling on the tent, neither of us were quick to get out of our bags.

Shortly after sunrise, the rain cleared and we started to see blue skies. Oh Joy!

After sunrise it cleared nicely

With a 6:15am departure, we were quick to make it to the first snowfield. After a little break for gaiters, crampons, water and food we made our way up to the ridge.

The snow wasn't great, but wasn't bad either. The rain and the warm night made the top few inches slush, but the snow pack below was stable and good.

heading up the snowfield

Once we made it to the "bowl" we cut across and started a steady accent up to the ridge connecting Castle and Conundrum. As we headed up the clouds came to meet us and it wasn't long before we were standing on the ridge.

Almost to the ridge

In and out of the clouds we began to work our way up to the summit of Castle Peak. The rock was loose in spots, but overall the trail is very easy to follow.

A few hundred feet below the summit

Just after 10am we made the summit. Not much of a view as we were in the clouds the entire time. Glad the last time I was up there you could see forever.

Castle summit shot

We didn't stay long on the top as we didn't like the weather. We both knew it could turn bad in a hurry and we didn't want to take that chance. Down the ridge and over to Conundrum we went. It wasn't long before we were standing on the summit.

Heading up the ridge to Conundrum

Conundrum summit shot

By 11am we were back down to the ridge and ready for some extreme glissading. The snow was pretty wet by now, but the pitch was around 30 at the steepest part. Ryan went first and I went after. The glissade was great and we were addicted. We hit 3 more glissades until we were well below the road. Most fun I've ever had coming down a 14er!

Ready for the glissade of a lifetime

The trip was bittersweet and even though I'm still five shy, I had a great time and safe trip in Colorado's grand mountains, who am I to complain.

Fun Fun!

A little video I made of the trip:

Glissade video!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Beautiful video!
07/15/2011 11:32
I think I need a helmet cam.


Pretty cool
07/15/2011 15:00
nice - looking forward to these this summer

Exiled Michigander

Great Video!
07/15/2011 19:01
Fantastic footage--kind of felt like I was up there with you. I'm suprised how good the snowpack still is there.


Sweet Glissade
07/15/2011 20:25
It was great to run into you two at the basin below the snowfield and then again on the summit (I took the 7th picture in this report). While descending the Northeast Ridge we eagerly awaited your guys awesome glissade and watched the whole thing. I was envious!

Very cool to see a different perspective on the same day and mountain!


Nice Report, Nice camp spot..
07/15/2011 21:10
I've wondered if there are any decent spots up there that you could backpack to since I don't have a vehicle to get too far up the road. Were there several spots or was this the one and only? Your spot looks ideal, just wondering if I'd have to beat the masses up there to get it. Thanks!


07/15/2011 23:51
Thanks everyone.

Hey Joey, glad to see you're on here. It was nice running into you. Sorry about not encouraging your party to attempt Conundrum, but at the time the weather was pretty iffy.

Corndiggs, above the turnoff for Montezuma and Pearl pass there are 3 campsites. Our was the highest at about 11,300ish. All are right along the road.


07/16/2011 05:06
Good use of the helm cam and amazing video edit I really enjoyed this alot thanks for going the extra time to make something great!


new vid
07/27/2011 19:07
Glissade video added.

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