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!
Started on my first ascent of Castle Peak with perfect skies. By the time we got into the bowl, we had snowstorms and very high wind. We had to descend early but it was a beautiful mountain. Watch the weather! I'll be back to climb her someday!
Good climb. Rotten rock.
Solo with about (100) of my closest friends!! I should have known that this route would be crowded on a holliday weekend. People were ditching there trucks allong Montezuma Road and hiking the rest of the way to the trail head. I started picking up people and soon had (8) or (9) people in the back. Just before we got to the lot I herd knocking on the back window and people yelling to stop. I guess the last dunse that I picked up fell out of the back and for what ever reason was holding on to the bumper for dear life. I laugh every time I see the little dent in the tail gate!! I had planned to summit and drop down the other side to the Konundrum Hot Springs, but had to turn back after I had already lost about 600 verticle feet. Dawson's Guide will lead you to believe that there is a trail to the hot springs fron the summit. NOT TRUE!! I called it quits after setting foot on a boulder the size of a refridgerator and surfing it through the talus for about 10 feet! This route may be an option in the winter, but a real hazard in the summer.
2nd Elk 14er and another good intruction to the range. Relatively easy but some fun scrambling toward the summit.
Up northeast, down northwest. Northwest is steep to the shoulder, but not too bad.
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!!!