Peak(s):  Castle Peak  -  14,265 feet
Date Posted:  10/14/2008
Modified:  10/24/2008
Date Climbed:   10/13/2008
Author:  Wentzl
 Castle in Two Parts  

Castle in Two Parts

On Saturday, October 4 we attempted Castle in the face of an impending storm that was supposed to bring a foot of snow to the mountains. The 4WD road was clear of snow up to 12,500'. There were nice views despite the storm.
Image #1 (not yet uploaded)

The trail up the standard route was also generally clear up to about 13,500'.
During our ascent into the fog and met the guys who left the report Castle and Cunundrum Loop and they advised us crampons would be nice to have up high. We pressed on anyway, wanting to see what the conditions were for ourselves. Thanks for the tip guys, you were right. (see pappy report from climb 10/4/08 posted 10/6)
Not discouraged, we pressed on into the fog and eventually gained the ridge. Image Image
At that altitude we did indeed encounter ice on the route that made it difficult to advance safely without crampons, which we had unfortunately left in the car. An earlier trip report suggested that it might have been possible to press on and find easier ground higher up, but we decided this was one of those days to take it easy and come back another day. (Ascent 88 report of climb on 9/27)
We did enjoy seeing the last of the fall colors one out trip.


And so we did come back another day, which turned out to be Monday, October 13th, Columbus Day. No fall colors this time, the trees were pretty much stripped bare. But what a gorgeous day. Sparkling clear, calm and not too cold.

We were able to drive to about 10,700' where we found a Range Rover stuck on ice covering the road. It looked a bit dicey, so we opted to park and walk from there.

In case you were worried, the Range Rover got out OK. We cramponed up the nasty bit. While we were getting ready another Toyota truck blasted by ignoring attempts to flag him down. He tried to clear the ice, but with some excitement slid backward about 200' after a bold attempt. He ended up parking next to us.

It took about an hour to walk to the end of the road, which was generally clear of snow. Except for the 100 yards of ice it was still drivable to within 3/4 mile of the end. It was a beautiful blue sky day, very unlike a week earlier.
Once beyond the high 4WD parking lot there was snow varying in depth from just a few inches to mid calf. The walking was fairly easy right up to the upper basin. From there we could see that someone had skied or snowboarded the main gully from the summit and that looked like a much more appealing ascent than the standard climb along the ridge where we bailed out the previous week. So we trudged in snow that was mostly unconsolidated and about mid calf deep up to the base of the gully. Here is the view looking back at our path and then looking up the gully.

All of the ski tracks from Cgangy (see trip report 10/06/08 submitted 10/11/08) were still easily visible.

Going up this slope was a real bear. At times the rock was barely covered and at other times the snow was mid thigh deep and really difficult to move through. Elly and I traded leads breaking trail for what seemed about 90 minutes to get up to the ridge. For a while it did seem like it would go on forever. There was nowhere in the gully with good consolidated snow. Every step was a real effort.


But looking back down where we had been gave a nice sense of accomplishment.


During the frequent rests on the ascent there was no shortage of beautiful scenery. It was also relatively warm and calm, which made it a pleasure to be out. Here is a look from well up looking across at the Maroon Bells with Capital and Snowmass in the background.
Finally the end of this hill comes into view.
After reaching the ridge it is time for a well earned break, soak in the sunshine and eat a little snack before finishing to the summit.
There was one little obstacle getting to the top that was easily overcome with just a couple 4th class moves over rock and loose snow. Not terribly hard, but not a good place for a slip!
After that, an easy stroll to the top.

Here is the view from the top looking back at the route taken and then another looking north to the Maroons

We made the top at about 2:15 p.m., a little over six hours from the truck. The descent took less than 2 hours, thanks in part to perfect conditions in the gully for a 1000' vertical foot butt slide.


 Comments or Questions

02/05/2011 00:22
Great trip report ... beautiful photos! Thanks for posting (that glissade looks like it was pretty good for an early season buttslide ).


Stuck on the ice...
05/02/2011 14:23
Enjoyed the trip report. Awesome how much snow is up there. That was my wife and I looking for some early season skiing and stuck (very temporarily I might add) on the ice when you pulled up behind us. Looks like you had a great day!


10/15/2008 02:20
Way to come back and tackle the mountain. Sounds like a great day to be in the mountains, beautiful bluebird day, no people and a great climb. Liked many of your pics, good TR.

James Scott

Great Maroon Bells shot
10/15/2008 15:37
That first shot of the bells- I changed my desktop background and am now using that. Beautiful shot! Thanks!


Hard work
10/15/2008 20:07
...slogging through that unconsolidated snow. But congrats. And I‘ll 2nd the kudos on that show looking west: beautiful.


Great job!
11/30/2010 17:28
Wow! Fantastic TR, great photos! As a confirmed despiser of endless uphill slogging through the snow, I am in awe of the persistence it must've taken to get up that slope! I love the picture looking back on your seemingly endless trail.

P.S. Did you two use snowshoes at all? Or crampons (after the ice, on the slope itself)? Just curious...your TR has inspired me to try to get either this or another similar climb under my belt in the very near future.


CO medic04
10/20/2008 21:33
Snowshoes might have been useful in a spot or two, but I think the terrain was too steep where we really could have used them. We carried crampons, but never used them except on the icy road at the start.

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