Castle Peak - 14265' - NE RIdge Class 2+
Conundrum Peak - 14064' - Class 2
I did these two peaks with Corey Babb on a nice weekend in mid-September. We had done Mount Massive the day before and taken his jeep as far as we could up the Montezuma Basin road before camping out for the night. The next morning we woke too a beautiful dusting of snow on the surrounding high peaks. I was very excited for this climb as I knew when the Elks have a dusting of snow in September the scenery is truly grand. We made the easy walk up the last mile of road to its end where we saw an SUV type vehicle parked with a big flat tire. Looks like their day wasn't off to a good start. We went up towards the permanent snow slope just above the end of the road, pulled out the ice axes and booted 700 feet up this nice snow which had about a foot of fresh snow on it. Once in the upper basin Castle Peak came into view and towered above. We noticed the trail heading up the NE ridge of Castle and decided we would do that route then circle around for Conundrum. The steep snow finger leading to the saddle between the two peaks looked like a great glissade as well. So off we went up the trail to the ridge crest. The terrain became tougher quickly however and I was forced to make a few knife edge ridge crossings since the small ledges just to the left were covered in snow and ice. I also didn't have micro-spikes like Corey did so I had to take it very slow. We managed our way though and after one short class 3 chimney crux we topped out. WOW was all I could think with the Maroon Bells lie to the west. We met a few people on the summit including a father and 12 year old son. We took lots of photos and began the traverse to Conundrum which went well and we made the glissade down the snow from the saddle after summitting which was awesome. As we glissaded though a large rock came down Conundrum and into the basin right where the trail was. Good thing no one was there at the time. The ensuing hike out was quick as we got another glissade down the lower snowfield to the road. The foliage was very nice on the drive back.