Southeast Gully & True Summit

Southeast Gully & True Summit

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 39.31290°N / 105.3813°W
Additional Information Route Type: steep scramble with one or two 5.4 moves
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 5.4
Sign the Climber's Log


First, my route up to the base of The Castle is different than Gerry Roach’s; he recommends ascending to the southwest (to the left,) where I ascended to the northwest (to the right.) Either way works, just don’t head straight up the mountain for you will encounter a band of cliffs.

From the parking area at the Wellington Lake TH, try to locate the southeast gully on the left side of The Castle. It is fairly obvious where this gully resides for the rest of The Castle looks very imposing.

From the Wellington Lake TH at 8,020-ft, locate the gate to the Boy Scout Camp. Hike past the gate and continue on the dirt road about 50 yards then look sharp to the right and locate a flagpole with an eagle on top of it. Once at the flagpole bear right and follow the faint dirt road until it quickly fades away. At this point, hike up the steepening slope, generally to the right for about 1000-ft of vertical gain. Once at the base of the Castle's towering cliffs, traverse south on an a faint climbers trail around to the beginning of the southeast gully. Roach notes that there is a faint painted arrow on the rock showing the gully. I easily found the correct gully but I never found this arrow, and I looked extensively for it.

Route Description

At the base of the southeast gully, scamper 15 feet into the gully, and you will find the first 5.4 move(s). There are two places that will work for an ascent. There is a narrow chimney on the left and a very steep slab of smooth granite with a rock overlay to the right. I have done both and feel as though the slab climb is easier, especially when protected. Most would probably feel more comfortable with the steep slab, however I found it to be more exposed. The consequence of a fall from the slab climb seems direr than a short fall from the chimney climb. The chimney climb requires tough stem climbing and may be slightly more difficult than 5.4. Rappel this portion on the descent.

Next you will come to a series of fun mixed class 3 and 4 scrambles. There are a few spots to protect yourself if you wish but I found the climbing up through the giant slabs of rock and boulders to be really enjoyable. The rock here is very rough and grippy; don’t be surprised by the end of the day your hands are rubbed raw and feel like they should be bleeding! This section of climbing requires some good route finding to keep the route a class 3 and 4 climb.

Finally, you will arrive at the hanging garden, which is basically a flat area with different, surrounding summits. This is a good spot to relax and scout out your next objective, attaining a summit. From here the east summit is the easiest summit to attain via an easy class 3 scramble up through a notch followed by a 15 ft slabby ramp to the summit.

The true north summit (Roach calls it the west summit, so I maybe wrong) is across the garden and will be obvious. If you scamper up the easier east summit, you can spy the entire route up the north summit. Locate the tree growing parallel to a vertical wall of rock. Climb it 25 feet to a place where the slab of rock begins to pull away from the tree. Spot a boot width crack that runs directly up this slab to another smaller tree. Leave the tree and use this crack to ascend up the slab to the smaller tree. The exposure here feels real. I found this sequence of moves to be the crux of my day. From a comfortable platform within a notch locate the summit boulder about 8 feet above. I am 5'10 and barely had enough length to reach the top of this boulder to get a good grip of it. Use the grip and pull yourself up the boulder to the true summit of The Castle. If you are shorter than 5'10 you may need to lasso a rope around the summit boulder to help you aid climb it. Or if you're with someone who can make the tough move solo, they can belay you up.

I would highly recommend rappelling off the true summit or if you have to, rappel your ascent route down past the trees. Down climbing without protection from the 2nd tree to the first tree would be a scary proposition. The summit features a pretty good anchor for a summit rappel, and you can use the upper tree as your anchor for a rap down your ascent route.

The following text by Jeremy Hakes

When you get to the final hanging garden area, you can also climb the west face of the summit block area - it goes at around 5.7 or so, but is protectable and takes you right to the summit block - you can tie into the summit boulder to set up a belay, bring up your second, and then rap off the summit boulder to the ground below. A 30m rope is JUST long enough to reach the ground from the summit boulder.

Essential Gear

I would bring a helmet and some type of footwear with a grippy rubber sole. I wore my hiking boots up to where the climb actually begins then I changed into some Nike all -terrains for better traction.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.



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