Climbed with my friend Dave Sincere.
This post is dedicated to my poor dead friend. May your spirit float amngst the summits.
Erin and I spent a beautiful autumn day in the Elks, bagging our tallest remaining 14er. The snow starts right around the 12,800' parking lot, and you could need crampons if things are icy in the morning. A TR is available here.
Well it almost feels like cheating to drive up so far but hey - take advantage of the road if it's there.
As a result we had a refreshingly short hike of 1 hour and 20 minutes to summit. We descended down the northwest ridge. There is still quite a bit of snow but we couldn't take advantage of a glissade due to all of the rocks on the snow. An ice axe is definitely still needed going down. I had to self arrest twice to keep from going completely out of control.
A fun climb and great views of the Elk Range.
Great snow and nice high camp via the 4X4 road. Beautiful Colorado sparkler day of sun and blue sky.
Drove to 12,800 ft. and camped. Next morning climbed to the ridge with an ice axe, then climbed Castle and Conundrum on an easy ridge, 3 hours jeep to jeep.
Whew! By far the toughest of the 9 fourteeners I've climbed! A lot more exposure than I thought skirting the towers along the ridge. Froze with fear at the top on the way down...Yikes! I guess I'm a big chicken though, it seems like others don't think it's a big deal at all! It's okay, Bryan was my hero! He kept me from going off a cliff and led me down safe and sound!
It gets a little scary once you gain the saddle around 13,300'. You can either go over or around the rock towers on the ridge. We chose to go around and this made for slow travel in the scree, but did avoid the exposure of going over the towers. The fun part is the last 20 vertical feet. You can either work your way up between 2 rocks or traverse the ledge that leads to the trail to the summit. I did the traverse and only about 2/3 of my size 12 boot fit on the ledge. Lots of exposure here. After that, it was an easy two minutes to the summit. Castle is the easiest of the Elks, but still a little scary.
Saturday we drove to the turn off to Pearl Pass and found a parking spot. The hike started out easy enough going up a 4-wheel drive road that ended at 12,800 feet. At this point were only 1,500 feet from the summit even though we couldn’t see it yet. We carefully crossed over some snowfields since it was early in the morning and the snow was still hard and a little icy. Up and over a steep slope we could see the summit and the huge snowfield between Castle and Conundrum.
We headed up the trail that didn’t involve the huge snowfield this was the steepest part of the day. Once at the ridge we had to do some scrambling and there was a little exposure in some places. At the beginning of the ridge we stayed on the north side (hiker’s right) for a while and then hiked the last 200’ right on the ridge to the summit. On the way down we were going to glissade down the huge snowfield.
At the saddle we had to go down climb 50 feet of scree to get to the snowfield and it wasn’t very easy. I had to make some funky moves and finally made it to the snowfield. The snow at this time was soft and not icy. It was awesome! After the huge snowfield there was a series of smaller snowfields that we glissaded down. We almost glissaded down to the upper parking lot at 12,800’.
This is a hike that had it all. We had to hike over icy snow. We also had to do a little scrambling and there was some exposure. Then to top it off we glissaded down 500 feet or so.
Cold, windy day. Beautiful views of other Elk mountains. Continued over to Conundrum.
Beautiful views from the summit....beautiful views from the trailhead. This was my first peak in the Elk Range, and those mountains are GREAT!!!
Nice easy one - climbed in early am and drove home 4 hours - was home by 1 pm or so - still had Saturday left.
Started from the Montezuma Mine area, and hiked talus to the NE ridge trail. After some loose rock at the start, the trail becomes nice with some Class 2+ rock scrambling on ridge.
Weather was great on summit, and met three others on top, with another couple on the way.
I had to wait till September for the Montezuma Road to melt out as I wanted to car camp at the mine. This was my 2nd snow climb. Sure would have been easer if I'd had an ice ax. What an amazing view from the saddle between Castle and Cunundrum. All the rest of the Elk Mountain 14ers just line up for inspection. This was my second glissade on a 14'er
Enjoy the road-hike for a few miles, and then climb up the scree slope to the Eastern ridge where the views are spectacular. Hopefully there will be enough snow for a nice glissade back down.