Peak(s):  Castle Peak  -  14,265 feet
Date Posted:  05/15/2009
Modified:  05/16/2009
Date Climbed:   05/14/2006
Author:  Easy Rider

 North Chute & East Face   


We left Gunnison half passed four. Josh threw a belt in his truck in Paonia, so we piled all our gear in with Sean and his girlfriend. By midnight we were settled in at a spot just above Ashcroft. We probably should've started right away; we needed a little rest after the drive. We left camp at half passed four. I was apprehensive about the mild freeze, and hoped the snow would be mature enough to be good for it. Seeing sunhit, I adjusted the plan from the east face to Montezuma Basin, allowing more time. Once in the long spiraling basin, I tried to make up for the late start, staying just within sight. I was the only one on skins. Topping out on the north couloir, Josh entered into the final basin. The Maroon Bells, and Pyramid loomed on the horizon. The snow on the east side to the summit was soft, but not rotten or saturated. There was still time. Without skis, or a beacon, Sean could only do his best to spot, and wait for Josh. I would essentially be solo. I dropped in to the face from the summit, and made a cut over the chute. It was steep enough that I was glad to have soft snow for my dull and ragged edges. The Kofache Velluge Light hardboots were a little sloppy, as usual. Mostly they were just too big. I had about four foot beds and three pair of socks clamped in there. In the narrow, rock lined chute, the snow was firmer underneath, and icy in a couple places, with several inches of corn. I paused on small protected spots to watch the sluff empty from the channel, and look for chicken heads. I built small piles and sent them. Nothing. Mostly, I wanted to limit my time here, and kept moving. Periodically, small chunks of ice hurtled down and pecked at the back of my helmet. The tightest section of the hall was about eight feet. It was truly confining in places because I could not see the top or bottom of it. After twelve hundred feet of chuting, I exited left and away from the sluff channel and hot rocks to more open slopes. I would have thought the snow at this elevation would be starting to really thaw, but that was not the case. I watched for thin spots where the slope rolled over relentlessly: back in the local flavor of 50 degrees with the end in sight, but still no view of the runout yet. Dense rippled chords. Silky. I held a lot of speed into the gullies, and resisted the temptation to wing the sides as I rode into Pearl Basin. I waved back, barely able to pick out the two figures on the summit. It was going to be awhile before our randevous at the Pearl and Monezuma junction. I found our tracks from that morning further down, and spread out my wet gear to dry while I dozed. Sean was fast, but the price for the late start would be paid in postholes. Josh had hauled his board, and would be cashing in his turns.


 Comments or Questions

east face done?
02/05/2011 00:22
Road conditions? Where did the snow line start?

Snow conditions? Best guess on how much longer the East face will be in?

Sounds like you got one of the last for the year. I‘ve got Green-Wilson for next weekend and am hoping to catch the east face in.


Easy Rider

Current conditions
11/30/2010 17:28
Sorry to disappoint you, but this report was from '06. I would speculate that the road is probably closed around the same location at the bottom of a small gorge up from Ashcroft. Sorry that's not much help! I would think the East face still has some snow on it, but badly runneled. I would bet the North side is looking fine, and the run down Montezum is tops. It's one tht a lot of folks save for late in the season because it is almost always still in. Hva good time at the Huts, always wanted to spend a night up there.

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