Castle Peak - Aspen Trip
- Elk Range
Castle Peak, (and Conundrum) Elevation Castle 14,269ft. Conundrum 14,064ft. (Jul. 26, 2003)"Northwest Ridge", trail from 4X4 Castle Creek Road TH. From this TH this class 2 trail runs (8.0 miles rt. with 3,065ft. gain). The trail starts with a 4X4 road walk for 2 miles until you leave the trail, and cross one of the many snow field for the day. At the end of the 4X4, the snow field was truly the way to go up the loose rock and talus. Castle is a true Elk Range peak, you can tell this by the crappy rock. The main snow field up to the saddle between Castle and Conundrum was easier then it looked. From a distance this snow field looked very steep. The only issue or difficult all day was climbing from the snow field up loose rock to the saddle, this section was about 100 feet long.
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Trip Schedule break down
|Friday||5:30PM||-leave Tim's house and five (I-70 to Glenwood Springs, I-82 to Aspen)|
|11:00PM||-arrive at a suitable camp site along the castle 4X4 road.|
|Saturday||7:05AM||-leave the TH to climb Castle and Conundrum Peaks|
|9:20AM||-summit Conundrum Peak Also summited an alternate peak location.|
|10:15AM||-summit Castle Peak.|
|12:15PM||-back at the TH.|
|2:00PM||-beers in Aspen.|
|5:00PM||-drop of Hilda and the kennel.|
|6:00PM||-back at camp in the rain..|
|Sunday||3:45AM||-wake to damp gear. See Pyramid climb.|
I had decided during the first climb that I did with Tim and Hilda (dog) that the place to be on a loose rock climb was in front of Hilda. Dogs have no sense of careful foot placement, and the hazards of showering people below with rock is not a thought that ever crosses a dog's mind. All of this to say I made it up the saddle over loose rock before Hilda did. I do have to say that Hilda did better on this day then on the day that she did Harvard and Columbia.
Once at the saddle we were greeted with awesome views of the Bells and the rest of the Elk Range. The climb up to the summit of Conundrum was easy, but we did have to discuss which part of the ridge was the summit. We ended up climbing over to another part of the ridge to only discover that where we first gained the ridge seemed taller. I would personal say that the spot closest to Castle on the ridge line of Conundrum is the highest point. At this point is where we essentially started to climb with Noah, Samantha, and Topa (dog). We hiked with this group for the rest of the day.
We climbed back down to the saddle and then up Castle. The climb up to Castle is more difficult then climbing up Conundrum, however neither was that strenuous or long. On the summit of Castle we met some other people, one guy had climbed up from Conundrum Hot Springs. I guess the hot springs have become quite popular over the years and the attire at the hot springs is "clothing optional". Adding the hot springs to a climb of Castle sounded interesting, but the climber mentioned that the climb up to Castle from the hot springs was not marked and the slope was full of loose rock.
Hiking off of Castle we decided to go down the ridgeline and shoulder of castle, avoiding a descent back down the loose rock onto the snow field. It was a good choice to avoid the snow field, not because we didn't want to glissade, but rather with people coming up that route we did not was to knock rock down onto them. On the way back we did however have a couple other chances to glissade.
After getting back to camp we went into Aspen to have a couple of drinks, some food, and drop Hilda off at the kennel, as she would not be joining us for the class 4 climb of Pyramid the following day. We moved our campsite to a lower stop during an afternoon and evening rain storm. This would have been easy, but we ended up have a little excitement with the 4X4 road and wet rocks. We manage to get up and back down the road, but I think that some of the ruts in the road might have become deeper after our passing.