Located near Aspen, CO, USA, Conundrum Peak reaches 14,060 feet, however, it is not an "official" CO 14ers since it does not rise the magic 300 feet above the connecting saddle with Castle
. Subpeak or not, it is a worthwhile climb in its own right and can easily be done together with Castle Peak.
Good summer and spring snow season routes exist. Difficulty ranges from class 2 - 3. The Montezuma Basin Road allows the 4x4 equipped to park as high as 12,500 feet.
Conundrum has good coverage in both Lou Dawson's and Gerry Roach's guides to the 14ers.
There are two trailheads commonly used for this mountain. These Trailheads are also used for Castle Peak. Both are reached via Aspen.
Leave Aspen on westbound Highway 82. At a traffic circle (roundabout), take Maroon Lake Road west a very short distance. Turn south on Castle Creek Road. At this point the driving routes diverge.
East and North side access
Castle Creek Trailhead (Standard)
Drive along Castle Creek Road to the ghostown of Ascroft (about 11 mi). This is the winter snow closure point. Two miles further, take the right fork. 2WD parking is best done at 9,800 feet right before the road becomes steep and rougher. The road is pretty easy 4 wheeling all the way up to the Montezuma Mine around 12,500. The road has some tight spots however. Park either at the mine or a little farther at the end.
West side access
Conundrum Creek Trailhead:
Drive along Castle Creek Road 5 miles to the paved Conundrum Creek Road. Make a right and cross Castle Creek. The snow closure is about a mile from Castle Creek Road. Regular season climbers can continue only a half mile more. Respect the private property in this area.
No permits, parking passes, or fees.
When To Climb
July and August are the busiest months but this mountain can be climbed year round.
The Montezuma 4x4 road will have various levels of snow drifted across it in the spring. You will probably have to park on the road between 10,500 and 11,500.
There are six free, designated sites along the Castle Creek Road. Winter or early season climbers might want to camp at the mine.
Just off the 4x4 road past the Montezuma and Peal Pass juction are the Alfred Braun 10th Mtn Division huts open during the ski tour season.
Mountain ConditionsWeather and Forecast
CAIC's avalanche line: 970-920-1664
CAIC's report for thecentral CO mountains
Beware of hungry marmots!
Note: My friend's Xterra had it's fuel sensor wire chewed through. Had the marmot bitten through the nearby fuel pump wiring we would have been SOL.
Carbohydrate replacement therapy
Your back at the trailhead and thoughts naturally turn to food and drink. Where do you go?
Hickory House Ribs in Aspen (730 W. Main St.). Great food and beer—perfect after a hard day of climbing.
I would really like to know some more places. If you have recommendations please post them here. Thanks.