Castle Peak (and Conundrum)

It’s been a few weeks since we made this trip, but the pictures are so gorgeous I thought I’d write a little something and post them throughout. Castle Peak is considered a class 2 climb, but near the top I personally would classify it as a 3. Conundrum doesn’t technically count as a 14er due to the rules about it being to close to another peak, but it was still a gorgeous view point of Castle Peak.

Molly and I got to our camp spot really late on a Tuesday night and woke up early to get started on a long 13 mile out and back with 4,500 feet of elevation gain. Fortunately the first 4 miles are on a rocky 4wd road that leads up to the base of the mountain. We made great time and even got an incredible encounter with three moose as we began.

Once we were at the base of Castle the trail goes up into a notch covered in boulders and ice. We lost the trail a few times in this section and ended up just decided to go straight up the notch until we found the trail again.

Once we were at the top of a small rise in the trail we had a gorgeous view of Castle Peak and the trail the leads up to the ridge on the north side of the mountain. We sat for a while and ate some lunch before we made our way up the gradual slope.

Near the top of the mountain the trail goes through some sketchy exposure with some difficult areas to move around comfortably. There was ice and snow on small passes we had to cross climbing up and over huge rock spires and around others. After pushing our fear down multiple times we made it to a smoother section and made our last move to the top.

Once we were on the peak we took a few pictures and headed down the west side of the mountain to connect the ridge over to Conundrum. The trail was really smooth throughout this section and in the saddle we noticed a small trail that shot straight down the ridge. We thought about taking this on the way back, but were sketched out by the grade and loose rock going down.

We slowly made our way up Conundrum and admired the grandeur of Castle Peak blanketed in snow and protruding higher than anything in sight. We didn’t stay up for long and decided to give the saddle trail a try. I made my way down first and felt like it was safe enough for us to continue. This trail was a huge blessing as neither of us wanted to continue back up and down the North side of Castle Peak.

We were in the valley right above the glacier as we came down and noticed a huge crevasse in the ground under Castle Peak. We made our way across the boulder field and eventually got back on the trail that led down to where we had parked.

This peak took us about 10 hours to complete and totally wiped us out. As hard as it was, it definitely paid off in the end. Castle Peak is definitely my favorite peak I’ve climbed so far and can’t wait to do it again.

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