Peak(s):  Castle Peak  -  14,265 feet
Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Date Posted:  07/08/2013
Modified:  07/25/2013
Date Climbed:   07/05/2013
Author:  vusteph
 48 Hours Texan's Raid - Castle Peak and Mt. Elbert  

(note, i added pictures from my film camera)

Me (not really a Texan...but lived in the Deep South all my life)
Alex (the boyfriend. A real Texan. He does not wear a cowboy hat or boots and does not own a horse)

A little bout me: Lived in Deep South all my life. Working as a full time engineer in Houston TX, but I'm quitting my job and going to law school this August! I got accepted into the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder and will be attending there this Fall. Super pumped! I've never lived outside of the South, but I love the outdoors and mountains. I didn't get into climbing and mountaineering until about a year and a half ago when I went on a month long trip solo to Patagonia where I hiked my little heart out. I was intrigued by climbing and mountaineering while I was there and next thing I knew I was hooked.

Now on with the trip report:

This was our first 14ers, Alex's first summit ever, and my first trip report. We did Castle Peak first, then Mt. Elbert.

We drove straight from Houston, TX to Aspen, CO. It took us 18 hours of driving, with a solid 12 of those in Texas alone. Along the way we watched the scenery change around us and gleefully watched the temperature drop. We passed Independence Pass on Independence Day and arrived at the Castle Peak Trail Head around 3pm. We were about to head up 102 where a couple of gnarly Jeeps were parked, but one of the guys shook his head at us - probably a combination of our non-gnarly Rav4 and our Texas plates - so we rolled down our windows.

"Your car is going to get destroyed up there!" He told us we could probably drive up to the camp sites and park, but we decided to just go ahead and park here and haul our camping gear up. We were here to hike afterall! It's not everyday in Houston that you get to walk up a hill that's longer than 20 feet!

We hiked for about an hour an a half maybe, until we reached the last campsites before the 2nd creek crossing (around 11,000'). Popped up our tent, ate a snack, and passed out.

the road

July 5, Castle Peak

We woke up at 4am and after getting things organized and packed we took off around 4:30am. Neither of us have a watch, just a bulky alarm clock that we leave at the tent, so our sense of time is a little skewed. We hiked up the rest of the road til we hit the basin. There was snow! Omg, we were so excited. We had brought crampons and ice axe. Definitely didn't need them to make it up the snow hill, but we were here from Texas and we were pretty damn excited to play in the snow. The snow was a little slushy so we were slipping and sliding a little, but it was great practice for us to try out all sorts of crampon stepping and whatnot.

Once off the snowfield we left our crampons, axe, and my trekking poles by the trail. We hopped up the ridge and we were in love with the rock scrambling we got to do up to the summit. Some spots we weren't sure which way to go, but a quick scan and push forward we realized most ways around met up at the same spot. Finally made it to the top where there was another two people to take our pictures (and we took their's!). The clouds started looking iffy and my inexperience with Colorado weather (all I could do was study forum posts here and general weather) made me nervous, so we hightailed it off the summit. We heard one thunder in the distance and 20 minutes later the weather looked great again. Amazing how fast it changes!

Summit Pic

View from the Summit

back down from the summit

Then it was the somewhat fun part, haha. It was Alex's first time glissading and he jumped right into it. It was my 3rd time glissading and my fear of heights and plummeting into rocks slowed me down greatly. "Slowest. Glissade. Ever." We asked someone the time and it was 10am. Sweet! We thought it was noon. At this point we saw a man and his dog heading down. We had watched him and his dog earlier summit Castle, then over to Conundrum, then down the saddle. I watched him glissade down super fast! The best part was watching his dog run down the glissade track - a combination of pure joy on the dogs face and his tail spinning like a windmill with a turbine on acid was hilarious. I love dogs.

We headed back to camp, packed up, walked down the road and hopped in our car.

Next stop: Mt. Elbert

July 6, Mt. Elbert
We woke a little later and took off on the trail around 6am. I set my mind to hiking grind mode and we trudged onward. Out of the treeline we thought we saw the summit and I was pretty excited to get up there. We looked around and were amazed at how high you can climb via hiking and switchbacks. Monotonous looking at the ground turns into beautiful panoramas! A bunch of people passed us, but we kept trudging on. Our little sea level hearts were beating so fast and our lungs were asking us why there was less water and oxygen in the air. It was quite windy and cold on the way up and Alex and I were very glad to have brought extra layers.

Mt. Massive still looked pretty Massive from where we were. We saw lots of doggies and people on the trail. It made me miss my Border Collie mix - Breeze. I can't wait to move here and bring her on a 14ers! We reached what we thought was the summit and realized that it was not the summit. Our sea level hearts were crying.

But we pushed on and were rewarded with a beautiful view.


I took out my summit cookie to eat.


We basked in the view for about 15 minutes before heading out. There were a ton of doggies on the summit; it was like a dog park up there! I loved it. Before we headed out a couple in the fort asked "Do you want some watermelon?" They had carried an entire watermelon up to the summit. I was impressed and took a piece.

Going down was nice, we chatted, enjoyed the view, and looked behind us to see how far we had gone. It was nice until we hit the treeline. The flies and mosquitoes seemed to enjoy our return to the forest and so Alex and I practically ran down the rest of the trail.

Arrived back at the car around 3pm...which ended our raid. We ate at a microbrewery in Buena Vista on the way out and scored free dessert because they had run out of so many things! Sweet! Chocolate Mousse and a local beer to end our trip.

I look forward to moving to Colorado, and checking off more 14ers!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Welcome to Colorado!
07/09/2013 02:04
Enjoyed your trip report. Hope to read many more in the future. Welcome to Colorado y'all!


07/09/2013 16:22
Looks like sooo much fun. I'm super jealous. Andrea and I are going to have to join you guys for a weekend climb sometime in the fall.


Welcome to Outdoor Heaven!!
08/23/2013 03:26
bring back memories when start reading your TR, hope see you on the trail. Happy Climbing!


08/24/2013 02:35
thanks everyone! i'm looking forward to so many more 14ers

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