Tour de Castle
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  • Statistics:
    • Date Hiked:  June 25, 2005
    • Miles Hiked:  5.7
    • Elevation Gain:  3,555'
    • Hiking Partner(s):  Aaron Reid
  • Description:
    • We climbed the Conundrum Couloir of Conundrum Peak and then traversed over to Castle Peak via the northwest ridge before descending back to our starting point on Castle's northeast ridge.  This was a short but fun hike that offered a snow climb, ridge scramble, and good views of the Elk Range.
    • We left Denver at 9:30 pm Friday night and arrived at our starting point at 2:00 am just in time for some of the most miserable sleep possible.  We made it to the second creek crossing on the 4WD road and parked just shy of 11,000'.  As previously mentioned, we slept intermittently from 2:20 am to 4:40 am, but decided to just start hiking after someone in a headlamp hiked by and another vehicle arrived.  Although snow existed for many portions of the hike in, it was still a reasonably easy approach because it is on a road for much of the time.
    • We rounded the corner at Montezuma Mine and got our first real views of Conundrum and Castle.  At 12,800', near the end of the road, the snow became continuous in the basin.  We continued southwest into the cirque surrounded by Conundrum and Castle.  At the base of Conundrum Couloir, we assessed snow conditions and then prepared for the climb.  Although it was already 7:15 am, the snow remained solid and we proceeded up the couloir.  It was a good climb, with my only complaint being its brevity.  Before I knew it, we were skirting the cornice on top of the couloir and standing on Conundrum's summit after 45 minutes of climbing.  The couloir is relatively steep with Roach measuring it at 47 degrees in some parts.
    • The traverse to Castle took 45 minutes.  The ridge was snow free and went relatively quickly.  The weather was cooperating, and we took a 20 minute break in the notch on the northeast ridge of Castle which is also the top of Castle's North Couloir.  We decided to descend the northeast ridge rather than backtrack out the standard route.  We caught a couple of nice manageable glissades, and then finished the hike back down to the creek.  The round trip took us 6 hours and 20 minutes.
Leg Description Start End G (L) Grade Miles
1. Starting Point - Conundrum Peak (Via Con. Couloir) 10,950' 14,060' 3,110' 23.6% 2.5
2. Conundrum Peak - Saddle 13820 14,060' 13,820' (240')   0.25
3. Saddle 13820 - Castle Peak (Via NW Ridge) 13,820' 14,265' 445' 33.7% 0.25
4. Castle Peak - Starting Point (Via NE Ridge) 14,265' 10,950' (3,315')   2.7
  Cumulative Elevation Gain/Grade/Miles   3,555' 23.6% 5.7
 

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