Peak(s):  Pyramid Peak  -  14,018 feet
Maroon Peak  -  14,156 feet
Castle Peak  -  14,265 feet
Conundrum Peak  -  14,060 feet
Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Date Posted:  08/24/2012
Date Climbed:   08/12/2012
Author:  BearHamr


Pyramid, South Maroon Attempt, Castle-Conundrum, Longs
Aug. 12, 2012. The hike to Crater Lake and the “Bent Tree” is very gentle. If I had only known, I would have packed a HibAtchi, Ribeye and Fat Tire.  The campsites around Crater Lake, 1-11 DO NOT ALLOW CAMPFIRES. If you hike another 20 minutes along the trail there are a few nice campsites that allow campfires and they are close to water. We camped at campsite 11 and back tracked to the large carin to start the Pyramid ascent. It was a nice hike, the boulder glacier was fun and you could feel the massive presence of Pyramid even though it was dark. We arrived at the gully, steep, loose (much like Broken Hand) up to the saddle. It was a bit of a slog. In my opinion, that was the hardest part of the climb. The  ledges and “leap of faith” were very tame and nothing at all to stress about. I was actually a little disappointed they were not at all what I had imagined. The climb was pretty straight forward and made the summit on a great day.

Aug. 13, 2012. South Maroon. First and Last Attempt. Steep, Loose, trail segments everywhere. Got off main trail segment numerous times. Made the saddle when Rain and Fog set in. We retreated back to camp. Every trip report I have read on this mountain says, it is steep, loose and route finding can be a challenge. It was too loose for my old knees. I don’t care to try again. Never say Never! We headed back to camp.
After two hours of sitting in the rain, we broke camp, drove to Aspen, ate a burger and rented a Jeep. We then made camp on Castle Creek Road. Approx. .5 miles on the 4x4 road are several good camp sights on the right.

Aug. 14, 2012. Drove to the upper 4x4 TH of Castle. Road was fun especially in a rented Jeep with FULL INSURANCE. NO WORRIES! Made the summit of Castle Peak and headed to Conundrum. While at the summit, I in fact had a Conundrum. Which way to descend? Hmmm. I wanted to go back over Castle, but no, I made the worst mountaineering decision of my life and followed the group we had picked up on Castle which consisted of 3 high school students. All of which are accomplished rock climbers/Eagle Scouts etc. but young, spirited, no fear. Anyway this sight mentioned turning left at the saddle and descend a steep, loose trail while staying to the left. I was last to go, it had rained for hours the day before, it was loose, it was steep, it was icy. Every step I took started a massive slide. I was scared. I regret doing it for my own safety and for those of you who honor LNT. We scarred that mountain that day and that route down. I apologize to my fellow outdoor enthusiasts. My recommendation for that descent is SKI only.
Broke camp, back to Aspen for food, Su Casa. We then debated where to go. Talk was about Capitol but we were closer to La Plata. We elected La Plata. As we approached the TH parking lot, Zen Dawg says, “let's hit Longs”. So without even braking, I hammered it past the La Plata TH and headed to Longs Peak. Arrived at dark, set up the tent. Slept approx. 2 hours and got to the TH at 0200.

Aug. 15, 2012. The weather looked good. We hammered up the trail making good time. Made the Key Hole just as the sun was coming up and then I got what I wanted on Pyramid. Adrenaline Dump Baby. The ledges and narrows of Longs Peak, Key Hole Route was scary. I loved it. My opinion is some parts on Long’s should be a class 4 and Pyramid a class 3. Anyway, we wanted to do the Loft route but we stuck to the standard for time sake. Made it round trip in 9 hours 15 minutes. We were hoping for sub 8 hour but oh well.  I was back in Boulder eating a Buffalo Filet medium rare and a Fat Tire just after the lunch hour. Boooyaaah!

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