Had to turn around short of the summit due to weather, but this is a really beautiful hike. Will go back and bag this and Conundrum. The 4wd road is definitely good enough to make it above the treeline, but maybe a little questionable depending on your level of clearance/shape of your tires after that.
Pushed my bike to the top of the miners road for a fun way to get back to the car. Nice not too steep way to the top. On this date the glissade was in stellar condition!
8/29/17 - some hard snow in the basin before accessing the NE Ridge. I had read on 14ers.com this is a class 2 route. This was my 21st peak over 14,000 in Colorado and I must say I was definitely scrambling (on all fours) on some unstable rock on ledges that if I fell would have resulted in serious injury or death. I put it at class 3. Also, the route is difficult to find. First, in the boulder field at the end of the basin - cains go off in every direction and then end. Tough to follow in the dark with a head torch. Once on the ridge just below the summit trail fragments go in many directions. So for an intermediate climber this one was a learning experience and somewhat scary.
09/11/16: Got Castle, tagged Conundrum and back over Castle.
# 1 and #2 9-10-2016. NW wind 15-20 mph kept things cool - call it refreshing. Enjoyed the ridge scramble up and down. Added Conundrum and returned over Castle because the "shortcut" was dry and sketchy. With Lana. From the 4WD point just below the Pearl Pass road junction.
Jeff & I had the summit to ourselves, barely beat afternoon storms down the mountain.
Today I climbed 14,265 ft. Castle Peak and 14,060 ft. Conundrum Peak in Colorado's Elk Range. After work on Saturday I drove up Independence Pass towards Aspen. I camped after driving up a rough 4WD road which included a river crossing. I started from camp at 11,000 ft. at 5AM and made fast progress on Northeast Ridge route. I made the summit of Castle at 8:30 AM and proceeded down to the col between Castle Peak and my next target, Conundrum Peak. I made the summit of Conundrum at approx. 9:15AM and then had to re-summit Castle Peak. I made it back to camp at 11:45AM. Epic day and 31 Colorado 14ers done!
Got some incredible photos at sunrise, which made the tedious hike worth the effort. I parked at the Pearl Pass junction, but the walk down the road felt very long.
Forecast was for 0% precip. Summited around 11:30 in sunshine and scattered cumulus clouds. No lie, at 12:25pm it sleeted briefly before turning to rain. 45 minutes later we had clear skies, then 30 minutes later full rain. Don't mess with Colorado weather in July. Opted not to traverse to Conundrum out of fear of lightning. Live to climb another day.
once I left the summit. I gave up my plan to traverse over to Conundrum because the conditions were bad. By the time I made it back to the Montezuma Mine, the weather was clearing up to make for a gorgeous day.
Got it, but should have followed the (hard-to-miss) cairns instead of opting for the class 2 gully that Ericd mentioned (it might have looked like a better way, but looks can be deceiving). Oops.
Started with a road hike passing an old torn down mining camp to the boulder field ...big view of Conundrum and already halfway there in terms of altitude and mileage! Took an early left variation that unfortunately confirmed the terrible crumbling rock from the southern Elk range (sapped 1hr). Up and over this class 3 onto a dog route with another class 3 bonus climb up 100' of chimney to ridge around 14,000'. 4hrs up beginning from Pearl Pass junction.
Left the bridge at 6am and got to the summit of Conundrum Peak by 10:15am. There was snow down to about 12k, maybe a little lower. The traverse to Castle was easy (a little hard in ski boots). I was hoping to ski off the summit of Castle, but we were two weeks late..bleh. So I skied the Castle headwall and got about 2k vert on the descent.
Great glissade on the way down.
Beautiful day on Castle and Conundrum. I got to use my ice axe for the first time glissading most of the way back to the upper trailhead!
Easy climb when you've got a good 4x4. The clouds/fog made it very interesting.
Second summit of Castle Peak. Went up and over to get to Castleabra Peak, the main objective for the day.
Hiked 5 miles up the 4wd road, with Conundrum. Was disheartening to see the Jeep's driving up and down the roads...while we walked.
Great backcountry snowboard run down the north face of Castle.. amazing sunrise