Ascent of Castle Peak on 2017-09-15

Climber: Bo Saunders

Others in Party:None
Date:Friday, September 15, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Castle Peak
    Elevation:14265 ft / 4347 m

Ascent Trip Report

I drove up a good ways and parked at the Pearl Pass Junction. I likely could have gone farther and there was still a lot of ground to cover. It was a bit of a late start, so I felt like I had to hustle. No serious weather ever rolled in but there were plenty of clouds throughout the day. It's a long slog up the glacier/snow bank after you leave the road - pretty steep. The scrambling on the NE Ridge of Castle was more challenging than I expected. Roach has it at 2+. I felt like it was class 3, and found it harder and more exposed than anything I encountered on Lindsey - although any class 3 terrain was for shorter distances than the north face of Lindsey. Coming off the NW Ridge of Castle is much easier and the climb up Conundrum is an easy one. I dropped the saddle coming off Conundrum, which was steep and loose and is pretty intimidating when given the eye test. But after coming up Castle's NE Ridge, it's certainly doable.

Over the entire route there was intermittent snow on the ground (a dusting in some spots, an inch or two in other spots, and clear in others), the glacier/snow bank notwithstanding. There was decent snow dropping from the saddle and plenty of mud so that allowed me to boot ski over a few spots. But ice on the rocks made for tricky spots all over the place. I made good use of my spikes that day, and wouldn't have felt comfortable without them, particularly on NE Ridge of Castle.

I was facing a long haul down the road back to my car but luckily my descent was nearly in step with a group of three guys who had driven up the road even further than I had in a Wrangler who offered me a lift the rest of the way back to the junction. I gladly accepted. They were all out of towners who gathered in Colorado every so often to climb a few peaks together. I believe their experience level was similar to mine from the sound of it.

A side note was my ascent of Malamute Peak (13,348). As usual, a venture like this turned out to be quite a bit more work than I anticipated. It was steep and loose and there is no clear path up Malamute. There was plenty of snow and even some tricky exposure in several spots, but you can avoid most, if not all of that with some route finding. It would be easy to bonk after making this side journey, and in retrospect, this is what put the entire hike over the top for me and had me so wiped out afterwards. I thought about turning back several times, but pushed on and was glad I did. Although, being on top of Malamute at 10am and looking out over all I had left to accomplish was not an ideal situation to find myself in.

A final note. My GPS route said this total hike covered 8.43 miles (which is what I used to estimate the distance) and just shy of 3,000 feet gained. Unfortunately, the Roach guide (which usually covers this kind of info) didn't have the combo hike for Castle-Conundrum - although I am working with the Second Edition and the Third is now out. Either way, disappointing to not have Roach's measurements.

Start: 8:11am
Depart trail to climb Malamute: 9:07am
Summit Malamute: 9:57am
Rejoin trail: 10:32am
Summit Castle: 12:10pm
Base of Conundrum: 12:26pm
Summit South Conundrum: 12:40pm
Summit Conundrum: 12:46pm
Resummit South Conundrum: 12:56pm
Base of Conundrum: 1:05pm
Road: 2:00pm
Finish: 2:37pm
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3995 ft / 1217 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1000 ft / 304 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.5 mi / 13.7 km
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Cold, Breezy, Clear
Cold. Fresh dusting of snow, but otherwise clear, good conditions.
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3995 ft / 1217 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2995 ft / 912 m; Extra: 1000 ft / 304m
    Loss on way in:1000 ft / 304 m
    Distance:4.3 mi / 6.8 km
    Route:Northeast Ridge
    Start Trailhead:11270 ft / 3435 m
Descent Statistics
    Distance:4.3 mi / 6.8 km
    Route:Northwest Ridge
    End Trailhead:14265 ft / 4347 m
Ascent Part of Trip: Castle-Conundrum

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Malamute Peak2017-09-15 
2Castle Peak2017-09-153995 ft / 1218 m
3South Conundrum Peak2017-09-15 
4Conundrum Peak2017-09-15 
Total Trip Gain: 3995 ft / 1218 m    Total Trip Loss: 1000 ft / 305 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Bo Saunders
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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