Peak(s):  Castle Peak  -  14,265 feet
Conundrum Peak  -  14,060 feet
Date Posted:  08/18/2013
Date Climbed:   08/17/2013
Author:  zephyr_pelicante
 Castle is still an Elk  

Castle Peak 14,265'

Conundrum Peak 14,060'

From ~10,000'

Castle and Conundrum are the easiest Elks, and I paradoxically climbed them as my second to last (snowmass remaining).

Luckily, we got off route, and it turned into a standard elk climb with tough climbing over loose rocks - which was actually a really fun detour from the standard trail.

What "route"?

From the very top of the road, there will be a ridge to your left, take that. Make a point to stay on the ridge and you'll see what I mean about this being a real elk indeed.

Doing this will be very reminiscent of capitol or pyramid, and has some cool rock formations that you can climb.

One group member, Nick, had only climbed a handful of 14ers (easy ones) so we considered seeking a less difficult route, but he was cool with the climbing and got a good taste of what an elk 14er is all about.

Walking up the road


Cool peaks to the East

Continuing up the road

More views to the East

Continuing up the road

Castle / Conundrum

From Castle summit looking East

From Castle summit looking North

From Castle summit looking West

From Castle summit looking South

From Conundrum summit looking East

From Conundrum summit looking North

From Conundrum summit looking West

The entire time the cirque was echoing the sounds of massive rockfalls. Thanks to the zero snow, the descent from the saddle was a loose dirt / scree / accident-waiting-to-happen slope ski/tumble. Not as bad as the one on Pyramid above the amphitheater, but not a place I want to really camp out and have a conversation at.

We weren't too worried about ourselves slipping and sliding down the nasty slope as much as a fatal dosage of heavy rocks landing on our non-helmeted heads.

Some folks went back up Castle to descend, which would have been less miserable would require another push up to 14,265'.

Castle had great views - some of the best in the range.


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

08/18/2013 16:06
Pictures. With that wide angle lens you were really able to capture just how impressive that Castle-Conundrum basin really is. Thanks for posting.


08/18/2013 22:04
If you had to do Conundrum again would you descend the saddle again or go back over Castle on the return?


08/18/2013 22:13
I would descend the saddle again. It was well worth the saved time and distance.


There's been a lot of discussion
08/19/2013 03:54
on the forum about downclimbing that saddle, and most seem to agree it's not worth it. We descended by going back over Castle, while another party went down the saddle. We ended up getting down about the same time, with what seemed less effort.
By the way, we also ascended that same ridge by getting off route. Very sporting, indeed!


Saddle descent
08/10/2014 18:15
I have to agree with those say descending from the saddle is well worth it.

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