Peak(s):  Castle Peak  -  14,265 feet
Conundrum Peak  -  14,060 feet
North Maroon Peak  -  14,014 feet
Date Posted:  06/01/2010
Date Climbed:   05/29/2010
Author:  dholm
 Elk Range Ski Descents   

Castle Peak 14265', Conundrum Peak 14022'
Castle Creek TH
David (dholm) Evan (telejb), Jackie, Michelle,
~4720' vertical

We drove down from Fort Collins Friday night and camped as far as we could get up Castle Creek Road. We ended up camping at around 10110' and that was where we started the next morning. The obstacle to getting farther up the road was a swift creek crossing at the first footbridge. This crossing was up the road at 10200'. Even if we had been able to make the crossing there were large snowdrifts blocking the road no more than another quarter mile up the road.

We were on the trail by 5:45 AM. We hiked 10651' and then put on our skins. We were able to avoid any dry patches while skinning up Pearl Pass Road. The skinning was relatively fast moving and within no time we were in Montezuma Basin at the base of our climbs.

Evan in Montezuma Basin

The plan was to climb and ski Conundrum Couloir first because it is east facing and then the North Face of Castle Peak. There was a looming cornice above Conundrum Couloir that gave us some worry, but we were able to stay to the sides and mostly out of its line of fire. There was a lot of debris in the couloir. It had recently slid and left a solid base for us to climb on.

We summitted at 10:45 AM, took in the views, and prepared for our descent. We skied the line and tried to carry speed over to make for less work on Castle Peak.

Evan and Michelle in Conundrum Couloir

A group had climbed Castle Peak earlier in the day so we had a nice boot pack to follow. We summited at 12:45 PM. Even with our late summit the snow in this north facing line was solid.






We skied down the basin trying to avoid face-planting from the pull of the dirty snow.

North Maroon Peak
North Face Direct
Maroon Lake TH
~4300' vertical

We arrived at Maroon Lake TH Saturday night and scoped out the line. It was intimidating to say the least.

We familiarized ourselves with the route description while eating dinner and then went to bed around 9:30 PM. We woke up at 2:15 and left the TH by 3:15 AM. Ed met up with us for this climb. We had heard from numerous people that the turnoff for N Maroon is not very obvious. In Gerry Roach's 14ers guidebook it says that it is mile from the turnoff for the Buckskin Pass trail. We thought that it was closer to a mile. Another obstacle that we had heard about was crossing Minnehana Creek. We were fortunate to be able to "cross" the creek on snow.

The sun rose as we booted up a few slopes and reached the bowl beneath the face of North Maroon. We transitioned to skins and skinned our way across the bowl.

We reached the bottom of our line and got ready for the climb. The sun felt hot with the lack of wind. The climb consisted of at least as much traversing as climbing. The face consists of multiple cliff bands that required traversing to climbable weaknesses. The snow was overall pretty good but sort of variable.




The last traverse took us far left to the ridge in order to get around Punk Rock. We thought that this part was a little too melted out for skiing. We left our skis at this point in order to make the somewhat exposed moves in this section easier.

After reaching the summit some of us wished that we had taken our skis with us, but at the time it didn't seem worth the hassle. We were joined by Knox and Susan at the summit. PM me if either of you want more pictures. Knox actually kept his skis on through the Punk Rock section. It was impressive although I don't think that I would have put my skis through that kind of punishment. We survival skied our way down the face through the variable snow.

Looking down






CRAZY jump turn

A few sections were intense. We reach the bowl and made some very enjoyable turns.

We looked back at the face and, "Did we really ski that???" was the prevailing thought.

 Comments or Questions

total awesomeness
06/01/2010 21:44
Amazing lines, are you going to go back and get n.maroon from the top next year? Such a great time of year, we met you guys briefly on the trail way out after we skied Maroon Peak. You guys seemed fully energized after that taxing day, that‘s impressive. I was totally spent after our day. It was all I could do to just drive the 15 miles to the difficult campground.

Great work all around.


Bell Skis
06/02/2010 01:20
Wow seems like everyone is skiing these peaks! Looks very intense! Well done, thanks for posting...some amazing photos in here!


Nice work all of you!
06/02/2010 02:18
Those are some sweet lines, way to get em!

Jon Frohlich

Other group...
06/02/2010 15:35
That was me with the other group that climbed Castle before you guys. I was wishing for my snowboard the whole day. It was a beautiful day up there. Not sure what time you guys skied down North Maroon but two of us were camped near the lake Sun morning and looked for your group but didn‘t see anyone. We heard what sounded like some rockfall around 8-9am though.


Glad you made it
06/08/2010 18:22
I have to say-I was a bit worried when you guys started climbing UP the Castle couloir at 11am and was really glad when you skied past us in the basin. I‘m glad our bootpack helped you out a bit It was nice to see you guys on the summit-hopefully we can repeat another great day soon!


You guys are incredible!
08/05/2010 19:39
You guys ever done the Haute Route in Switzerland, I think it's begging you to come!

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