Peak(s):  Castle Peak  -  14,265 feet
Conundrum Peak  -  14,060 feet
Date Posted:  06/14/2009
Date Climbed:   06/13/2009
Author:  aHudge
 Good snow in June?   

This will be a quick TR, just to give some people an idea of the conditions up on Castle and Conundrum.

Crew: 3 people. 2 Hiker/climbers (E-dorvs and wife Lara), 1 Skier (me).
Many more 14ers members met along the way (pak, benners, pioletski, ossie322, and more)
Plan: Overnight via Castle Creek, camp at 12,200'
Route: Climb, ski Conundrum Couloir, climb ski North Face Couloir on Castle.
Weather: Surprisingly excellent.
Snow conditions: Lots, starting around 12,000'
Conundrum Couloir Snow Conditions: Very hard. All the new snow sluffed off, leaving the old, hard snow.
North Face Castle Couloir Snow Conditions: Excellent. ~8" new, soft, snow. Amazing for mid-June.

Friday night, our group of three hiked up to 12,200' feet, making camp on one of the few exposed dirt/grass patches at that elevation.


The plan was for me to get up earlier than the rest of the crew, and climb the Conundrum, hopefully timing it such that I would begin the ski descent as the other two watched from the basin below (primarily for safety, since I was skiing alone). From then we would head up the North Face Couloir together.

Starting around 4:00 am, I wandered up the valley and up the Conundrum around sunrise.





and the route: (taken later that day from Castle)

The ski down the Conundrum was hard and chattery.
E-dorvs took a few photos of me coming down...





A quick hike back to the bottom of Castle's North Face:

After meeting up with the rest of the crew, we started up the North Face Couloir. Luckily, my buddy E-dorvs kicked steps for us, so I just took my time in the back of the line. I was started to get a little tired. When we started up the couloir, there were no tracks in the freshly fallen snow, ours were the first (which would be nice coming down an hour later).



and what the route looked like (taken earlier from Conundrum):


and look across the valley to see another group headed up the Conundrum (turned out to be benners, pioletski, and ossie322)

About half way up the north face, I got hot and took off my shell, and out of laziness I just strapped it onto the pack instead of putting it inside. (Mistake). Once on top of the ridge a big gust of wind took it right off, and it went sailing down the south side of the mountain. Lesson learned.

me on the ridge with pak behind:

on the ridge...

sorry no pics of skiing Castle's N Face Couloir... I was too busy enjoying the snow...

running into benners, etc headed up:

and back on the bottom:


The ski down the North Face Couloir yielded some of the best turns I've had all year. Although the snow wasn't super light and fluffy, it was June! And it was warm. And I loved it.

Aside from loosing my shell, not a bad day.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

So good...
06/15/2009 18:40
to see you ripping those turns on the North Couloir. We had a blast on the way down. Some of the best turns I have ever had; Unheard of in June. I am sure Benners will have our TR up soon too! Sweet pic of you right under the massive cornice. It gives a great perspective of what it was like to be climbing up under it, but I hope no one is in that Couloir when it goes.



06/15/2009 05:33
ah! you were leading the group!
got it, sorry I couldn‘t quite remember.

Glad you had a good time too, that snow was pretty awesome.


06/15/2009 16:11
that snow sure looks a good deal better than it did last month. Nice work on both peaks, thats a full day.


06/17/2009 05:11
The snow looks super up there. Nice photos.

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