First taste of the Elk Range
I've really wanted to get into the Elks for weeks, so I decided to try for Castle and Conundrum, unsure of what the terrain and snow conditions might have in store. Finding an unexpected road closure 3 miles from the _lower_ parking, I started hiking at 6:45 am. After five miles, the snowmobile/ski trail spat me out onto virgin snow for my approach to the peaks. I stayed on low-angle terrain and tried to distance myself from the slopes which, sharply rising on both sides, showed evidence of recent slides. After making the first turn into the gulch, I climbed up a short incline to gain the flat again. At 12400' the second turn became visible. I couldn't see an approach that was protected from the avalanche runout zones (and looking at the topo in retrospect, there wasn't one). Although I still had plenty of time to get both summits, I knew better than to question that quiet voice saying "enough!" So I did what any self-respecting mountaineer would do--I stomped a giant smiley into the snow and withdrew.
all the while
enjoying mind-blowing views. I can't wait to go back there!
No comments posted yet.