Peak(s):  "Castleabra"  -  13,803 feet
PT 13,550  -  13,550 feet
Date Posted:  10/20/2010
Date Climbed:   10/19/2010
Author:  Furthermore
 Good Hot Springs & Summits   

"Castleabra" 13,803
Point 13,550

~21.6 Miles, ~5,700 Gain
October 18-19, 2010
Conundrum Creek


It is that time of year when the snow starts to fall and the nights become much colder. One of the best remedies? Hot Springs. CJ, my wife and I left Denver around 10:00 AM and made the drive to the Conundrum Creek trailhead. At the trailhead, we were amazed at the number of cars most of which were hunters. One of the hunters mentioned it was extremely busy at the Hot Springs with 70 people! We all looked at him oddly. Whatever.

We started our long hike towards Conundrum Hot Springs around 2:00 PM and arrived at our campsite just before dark. Funny, there wasn't another person around. We only saw two other groups of people hiking out on our hike in to the hot springs. We all ate dinner and had a very enjoyable evening soak.

Castleabra on the hike into Conundrum Hot Springs.

Hot Springs.

Not mine but man that is going to hurt. Poor CJ.

The alarm went off at 6:15 AM and CJ and I were hiking towards Castleabra by 7:15 AM. As we started our hike, there was a fresh dusting of snow. Since it was foggy, it took us a few minutes to navigate in the fog to find the correct gully towards the summit. The climbing in the gully was tough as the talus was loose and extremely slick with the fresh snow. At the bottom of the gully, there wasn't enough snow to make the talus travel easier, just harder. As we climbed higher, we were able to find areas of consolidated snow which made the climbing easier.

Starting up Castleabra in the morning.

Morning fog.

Clearing in the fog.

Neat Towers in the fog.

CJ working his way up the lower portion of the gully.

Near the top of the gully, the snow in spots was very icy and I had to cut a few steps. As we climbed higher, the clouds started to burn off which made for some excellent views of nearby peaks. Finally, after a very energy consuming ascent we reached the ridge where the sun was shining. It was nice to warm up in the sunshine. From the top of the gully, it was a short class 2 hike to the summit where we arrived at 10:50 AM.

Clearing of the clouds.

About way up the gully.

Upper portion of the gully looking at the summit of Castleabra.

The final push to the ridge.

Topping out on the ridge.

Summit of Castleabra looking at Castle.

Point 13,550 from Castleabra.

I think the view of Castle from the top of Castleabra is one of the best around and after a short break, we were on our way. Since 13,550 was also on the agenda, we debated on what was going to be the best plan for climbing 13,550. The ridge traverse proper looked good but time consuming with the fresh snow; additionally, I have read reports that mentioned the traverse took over 2 hours with snow. Henceforth, CJ wasn't quite feeling up for adding 13,550.

Due to the conditions, we decided to descend into Cumberland Basin and traverse below the ridge on the east side at ~12,800. We decided to meet up at the Castleabra-13,550 saddle so I bolted ahead towards 13,550. Instead of directly climbing to the saddle and then up the north ridge (class 3-4) of 13,550, I decided to take a sinuous route up the northeast face.

13,550 on the traverse.

My approximate route up 13,550.

Looking up my route up 13,550. Photo taken on the way down.

Looking up my route up 13,550. Photo taken on the way down.

Knee deep snow on the northeast face didn't make things easy, and I am not sure I would recommend my route without snow on it, but the climbing was rather enjoyable and exposed at times. I worked my way through many cliff bands and traversed on ledges as I worked my way towards the summit where I arrived at 12:10 PM. Blue skies and great views.

Castle from the summit of 13,550.

Castleabra from the summit of 13,550.

Looking southwest at 13,162 from 13,550.

Teocalli from the summit of 13,550.

I carefully descended down the route I ascended back towards saddle. Around ~13,100 I climbed through a notch in the ridge on traversed on the west side of the ridge to the saddle where I met up with CJ. From the saddle, we descended a talus gully back towards Conundrum Creek and arrived back at our tent around 1:50 PM. We packed up the tent and made our long journey back towards the car where we arrived at 7:15 PM. The PBR at the car couldn't have tasted better.

North Ridge of 13,550

Descent gully from the Castleabra-13,550 saddle.

Oh willows! 13,550 in the background.


The talus gully up Castleabra.

Castleabra on the hike out.

Route Map.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

10/20/2010 23:26
Good grief that looks like a long haul!


Did I give you an idea with my PM?
10/21/2010 01:47
Great beta and it looks like a great trip. Thanks very much.


great TR
10/21/2010 02:49
wonderful pictures and a fantastic looking time. thanks for posting


Castle from the summit of 13,550
10/22/2010 02:12
great photo of a rare vista. It shows the castle loud and clear.

You take some great trips - I always enjoy the reports. This no exception.


10/22/2010 17:07
It was a long haul.

Floyd - I've been wanting to get to Conundrum Hot Springs for a while and your PM gave me a good reason to go


10/27/2010 14:26
been wanting to do this one, nice pics. Thanks for posting

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