Peak(s):  Conundrum Peak  -  14,060 feet
Date Posted:  06/23/2009
Date Climbed:   06/21/2009
Author:  RoanMtnMan
 Conundrum - A quick day   

Decided to go over to Aspen for a late season ski. The weather forecast wasn't great, but the need to get out was strong. At this point in the year it's not "what line", but rather "what is in".

I met Jordan (jcwhite), Tyler, and Hudson in Carbondale and we headed toward Castle Creek late on Saturday night. We made it much farther up the road than we had anticipated, though there was some late night shoveling, a titan rock removal, and a chain-up. I think we opened it higher for others.

We set to the work of erecting the new Black Diamond Skylight tent Jordan had been commissioned to test. Now setting up an unfamiliar tent is always a challenging task, but throw in tired, wind, precipitation, and total darkness and it makes an adventure. After a few attempts we were finally successful. That meant snooze time.

The wind blew and the sky drained all night. I have to say the tent did well at it's pre-determined job. No leaks and stable on a wet and windy night.

The early alpine start was not even a possibility from a mental standpoint. Luckily we were high on a short road. We heard several other groups pass the tent in the early hours. We finally rolled out and cooked up some early morning energy.

We hit the boot pack under less than optimal skies, making the late start less of an issues. We were able to walk to the headwall and then decided to start skinning. We reached the base of the Conundrum Couloir in good time, though we were less than enthusiastic about the snow conditions. It appeared it was going to be a hard pack ski this day. Spring is still holding out above 13k.

The boot packing was quite solid up the short couloir and we were on the top in short time. I imagine that there were other groups on this route the previous day, but snow had already filled their tracks.

It's nice to have good partners. Not much discussion is needed. One person gets winded and another leap frogs to take over the trail breaking work.

We all commented on the winter feel of the day, the summit added to the notion. I skied off of the summit, while Jordan and Tyler enjoyed a quick down climb and a warm cup of tea.

Then the fun began. I skied first and then snapped a few pics of my teammates.




Myself again:

The couloir was a dichotomy of fresh snow and ice. The turns were uncertain, but we managed to have a pretty good time. Tyler, an east coast ski racer, actually thrives in these conditions.

I have been looking forward to skiing this route for a while, dreaming of perfectly timed spring conditions. Unfortunately the mountains don't always play to our expectation, but instead deliver something new and unanticipated. Of course that is the why we keep coming back.

Good fun was had, and before we knew it we were on the apron. The headwall turns were much better than the couloir. A nice reward for trying to stretch the 2009 ski season.



We skied back to the truck in about 2.5 hours roundtrip, didn't seem like a 14er day by any measure.

The bumpy ride down and chicken wings in Aspen were a nice close to a short but quality day.

Another good one fellas.

 Comments or Questions

06/24/2009 15:15
Always enjoy your trip reports. Great photos (I was going to pick a favorite, but the list would be too long) . Thanks for posting. Happy trails!


Thanks for the compliment!
06/24/2009 16:35
I am glad you enjoy them. I certainly enjoy all of the other TRs on here. There would be a lot less 14er enthusiasm if it wasn‘t for Bill‘s site and all of the TR posters.


06/24/2009 16:40
awesome photos, as always.

looks like that cornice is still hanging in there...

Chicago Transplant

Snowier than I thought
06/24/2009 20:01
Wow, there is still a lot of snow up there, I had wanted to ski Castle‘s north couloir this year but gave up with all the dirt snow, looks like its still in after all, I may need to reconsider...


06/24/2009 22:46
Wow I can‘t believe how high in the truck you guys got! That boulder is what stopped us. We were up there the day before in Conundrum and it was a solid sheet of ice when we skied it. Survival turns for sure! Looks like you had a little better conditions, but not by much!


Awesome morning
06/25/2009 02:57
That cornice looks ominous. As usual your photos rock! What a great outing.


holy crap
06/26/2009 16:57
that cornice is fierce. Amazing that couloir is still in with all the dirt in that region. Thought for sure it‘d be a quick season when glancing over at it from Castle last month. Nice, quick day for sure.

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