WAHOOOO baby!!! Third time is a charm!!! Finally, I conquered this "dumb" mountain that has "gotten the best of me" twice due to ICY, SNOWY conditions and weather! We saw the forecast for rain and decided that we were GONNA conquer it, so we started at 4:15am. After Castle Peak, we hopped over and bagged the "unofficial" Conundrum, then glissaded down. Once we hit the jeep, the downpours began.... we timed it just right!:-) P.S. If you start early (which you should considering this seems to be monsoon season), take crampons and an ice axe to climb up the snow- it made life a lot easier!
not a fan of the road but this was a decent hike. the ridge had nice views and there was some short fun stuff on the summit block. the snowfields made getting back to the road the best part of the day.
Awesome Peak, awesome climb. First climb with axes and crampons.
Beautiful day out! Got a little bit of everything in on this one...some nice hiking, snow climbing, ridge walking, a wee bit of scrambling, and a LONG glissade down the North Face Couloir! The snow started to get a bit slurpee-ish while descending, making the speed on the glissade manageable. Awesome day with two of my favorite climbing partners!
I stopped where the road crosses the creek about 1-2 miles from the highway by Pearl Pass. The climb took just under 6 hours, with great snow conditions. It was my first 14er in the Elk Mountains, and my first solo trip on a 14er. Probably my favorite climb yet!
This retarded mountain got me again... I've only failed 2 14ers before, and this is now the 2nd time the great walls of Castle's mighty fortress have gotten me- ARgH! With only a 1/2 mile visibility the whole time and having snowed on us since our campsite just below the 1st creek crossing, mother nature was against us AGAIN. Even with snowshoes/ice axe/etc, we were doomed. I will WAIT now until the mass of snow is GONE on this darned mountain and WILL succeed- 3rd times a charm, right?!
Carried snowshoes the whole way but did not need them. Crampons and ice ax a must. Some recent minor slide activity, but snow was solid today. Fun glissades on the way out, including down the North Face Couloir.
A nice snow climb to the saddle, but the final ridge to the summit was bare. Used snowshoes the entire time I was on snow, although crampons could've been used on the final slope to the saddle. Was able to do about 7 glissades down Montezuma Basin on stable snow. Following the creek bed was much easier and faster than trying to stay on the snow covered road. The road was impassable slightly above the first river crossing with the foot bridge. I started at 5:40 and reached the top after about 4.5 hours after coming over from Conundrum. Back to the car in 2.5. I started from where I camped 0.4 mi. up from where the Pearl Pass Rd. leaves the Castle Creek Rd. I would recommend an earlier start time to avoid soft snow.
:-( Had to turn around 365 feet from the top.... the rocks were too icy and weather was blowing in (though it was only 11AM). It was worth it though- amazing scenery! I will bag this one!!!!
April 7, 2005: East Face, Skied from the summit!
October 14, 2006: Northeast Ridge, Skied from the summit!
October 14, 2006: Northwest Ridge, Skied from the summit!
October 25, 2008: North Couloir, Skied from the summit!
Another wonderful long day in the mountains in the years before owing a 4X4. Starting near the paved road in Castle Creek valley, we ploded up the road, being passed by many vehicles. Being Sept. we had left our ice axes at home, but wished we had them above the 4X4 parking area. No axe ruled out the Conundrum saddle route and we climbed too high for the NE Ridge (these were the days before multiple guidebooks and comprehensive route descriptions), so we pushed up the couloir. While there was some loose rock, we were only a party of two and saw no others on this route. We summited in midafternoon, but the weather was warm and perfect and we made it back to our car before dark set in. I now start earlier in the morning tho'-hah.
Had Castle to myself ! great day .
Great hike and snow climb. Astounding views. Lost my water bottle when it slid 500 ft down the snow.
A fun snow / ice climb to the saddle between Conundrum and Castle. Had to do the last 200 feet or so to the saddle on the loose scree. Not fun! Ascended Conundrum, made the traverse to Castle, and then descended the north ridge. A nice tour.
A fun rock scramble up the ridgeline from the parking lot below. A bit of exposure, and avoided most of the loose scree in the cirque.
Eric J Lee
My first experience in the Elks. Definitely an interesting climb and a different experience. We had absolutely perfect weather and I got to do a reasonably decent glissade down from the saddle between Castle and Conundrum.
For what it's worth, if the snow below the saddle is melted out seriously consider going back over Castle. The descent down the scree to get to the snow is dangerous and loose (people have gotten scared or hurt doing this).
Be careful descending Castle to the saddle as well. There are a couple loose spots and generally speaking it's better to stay left.
Climbed with Aaron Johnson. Probably the easiest of the Elks, but still worth it for the view!
This one was a memorable ascent. We were snowed on as we made our way up to the ridge. A short time later we were turned around up on the ridge by a hair-standing-on-end lightning scare. We quickly retreated all the way back down to the snow and sat far away from our ice axes. After a while the clouds cleared and we ascended the scree all over again. We gained the summit with perfect weather. On the way down a guy in another party broke his leg (sliding down the snow with a trash bag on his butt!) and we stayed with him to keep him warm before assisting Aspen Mountain Rescue when they arrived. The guy had to be taken out in a helicopter. As we had hiked from our camp a mile up from the trailhead and it was late, we gladly accepted a ride down with the Aspen Mountain Rescue—hey we earned it!