A Fun Day in the Colorado 14ers
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Late June 2010, I teamed up with my regular 14er partners, Patrick and Robert to complete some unfinished business. The 14er combination of Castle, 14265', and Conundrum, 14060', stand outside of Aspen at the end of a long mining dirt road.
I had completed both in 2009, (see the reports for last year's Castle and Condundrum) while Patrick had climbed Castle with me and Robert had been thwarted twice for both peaks. So as a team, we took on the pair to check them both off once and for all.
The early summer of 2010 had been hot with periods of heavy snowfall in the upper elevations of the Colorado Rockies so we were not quite sure what to expect. We packed both crampons and snowshoes. The snow was spotty in places and absent on the ridge and summits. However, it was slushy in the basins so we were glad to have them.
We drove in on a Friday night and camped for an early 4:00AM start the following morning. After a couple of miles of road walking, we reached the lower section of Montezuma Basin and climbed the two small headwalls to around 13,300'. Last year, Patrick and I climbed the couloir from the basin to summit on a whiteout day. However, this year, the couloir was spotty with snow and would have made a very annoying scree climb.
So we took the standard Northeast ridge route. it was a lot of fun with a few short scrambles along the way to Castle's summit. With clouds boiling to our west, we quickly made our way down the ridge towards the saddle between Castle and Conundrum. Again, it was straight forward except for a few sections of fun class 2+ scrambling. Soon we were on top of Conundrum enjoying the views of the other Elks peaks of Maroon Bells, Snowmass, Capital and Pyramid.
We returned to the saddle and Robert and I opted to glissade 500' down to the basin. A ton of fun.
Overall a great day in the Colorado Rockies!