Peak(s):  Castle Peak  -  14,265 feet
Conundrum Peak  -  14,060 feet
Date Posted:  06/23/2010
Date Climbed:   06/19/2010
Author:  lakecityrat

 Castle and Conundrum - Standard Route  

I was going to a party Saturday night in Carbondale, so I figured I would bag a 14'er first. I originally planned to hike Pyramid, but I heard that it was pretty snowed in. Also, my friend Terry who had planned to join me decided to climb Little Bear instead to honor Kevin who tragically perished there last week as well as to document a safer route to that summit. I thought I would be soloing, but my buddy Jared decided to man up and come with.

We got a late start and did not hit the trailhead until 8 AM. The trailhead is very easy to find. We were able to cross the creek pretty easily in my truck and there was parking available at 10,900'. Image
The Creek crossing - Note the nice footbridge

We headed up and quickly reached the Pearl Creek pass road. Image
Stay right at the Pearl Pass Junction
There was very little snow until we reached the basin. You are basically walking the road until you get to the basin. Very gradual and mellow hiking. We strapped on our snowshoes as the sun had been shining brightly and we did not want to posthole. I think we would have been fine with just ski poles, but snowshoes made it easier to hike up the very steep gully. Image
The lower part of the basin. We hiked up the snow patch in the middle
Looking back on Jared climbing the first steep snowfield

After a very steep snow climb, we reached the upper basin. From here you can very clearly both Castle and Conundrum peaks (only Castle is visible in the following photo). We stayed left on the main trail. Image
Castle Peak. The trail is to the left and travels along the ridge. The hikeable couloir is just to the left of center
We did not see many footprints, and it seemed that most people had chosen to climb the couloir that day. We saw around 10 people total on the hike.

We climbed up the steep scree and found the trail. It lead clearly to the summit ridge. There was some more interesting climbing here, but nothing technical. Image
Looking back down the Castle Ridge. You can clearly see the trail winding down to the snowfield.

We reached the final summit pitch. The easiest way seemed to be climbing about 1/2 way up and then veering left and up to the summit. The post-holing was quite bad here, and there was a bit of exposure, but nothing too hairy. Image
The final pitch. We ended up going left and summiting the backside.

We enjoyed the summit by ourselves and then headed down the transition to Conundrum. Image
Obligatory Summit shot
It was a very simple trip over the ridge with a bit of fund climbing as you head up to Conundrum. Image
The start of the traverse across the ridge to Conundrum. Conundrum is visible in the right edge of the photo.
Some interesting class 2+ climbing
We made it from Castle to Conundrum in about 40 minutes and then headed down. Image
Conundrum Summit shot - Jared (Castle in background)
We reached the couloir between Conundrum and Castle and were able to Glissade most of the way down. Image
This is the ridge between the two peaks. We glissaded down here.
Deep snow! (this is the couloir we glissaded down)
It was very steep and slippery and the first time I have felt unsafe glissading, so be careful here.

After a quick snowshoe back down the basin, we reached the road part of the trail. A quick walk down in the hot sun and it was beer:30. Unfortunately, the sidewall of one of my tires was punctured by a rock driving back across the creek. Oh well, $200 is a small price to pay for a bluebird day! Image
Hoping Ford will sponsor my hiking career...

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Nice Report
11/30/2010 17:20
Thanks for posting this. I am considering the standard route this weekend. Was part of your discomfort with the glissade because you didn't have an Ice Axe? Also can you tell me what your total climb time was?


Conundrum Tuesday
06/24/2010 06:30
Nice TR! Three of us climbed Conundrum via the saddle on the 22nd. We saw your glissade tracks...that had to be fun, but make you a little nervous...they went down quite a ways! We didn‘t need snow shoes as it froze Monday night. Ice axe and spikes(for those that didn‘t lose theirs on Snowmass ) helped with the ascent. Nervousness about the sinkhole/lake had me arresting pretty quick on the glissade down.


Great Beta
06/24/2010 18:56
Thanks for the info, we‘re hiking Saturday and were wondering about the conditions. So were the snowshoes helpful getting around the lake after the glissade? We‘re debating whether or not we‘ll need them, looks like we might.


06/30/2010 02:56
Nice TR. Appreciate the up to date info. Thinking of climbing July 9th and wondering if you needed crampons to do the standard route. I understand snowshoes are probably worthwhile to get to the ridge but do you need anything after that?


Re: gear
06/30/2010 04:17
No crampons needed unless you wanted to climb the couloir. By the time you hike it snowshoes will probably not even be needed. Have fun!

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