Chad Board and I (Jason Friesema) set out to climb Castle Peak in late Springs despite record snowfall this winter. Due to the gas prices, we opted to drive my Honda Civic (40+mpg)instead of driving Chad's 4x4 pickup. This turned out to be fiscally and environmentally responsible, but it did cost us a couple miles of hiking. We set out on Friday the thirteenth of June 2008.
My Honda Civic did manage to drive about a half mile up Forest Service Road 102 to campsite 1. My low clearance car would not make it any further, but this car accessible campsight was a nice launching point for the hike.
We woke up at 3am to temperatures well below freezing. This caused the snow to harden considerable allowing us to walk on top of the snow. After the stream crossing, the trail was littered with considerable avalanche debris and deep snow drifts. Here is the intersection of the trail with Pearl Pass Road where we had to stay to the right.
We managed to stay on the road to tree line, but soon the snow was so deep that following the road was difficult and not necessary. The green line shows the buried road, and the blue line shows our route on the bottom of the valley.
Here we are where I presume the parking lot is locating at 12,800 feet. The snow remained very solid despite the rising temperatures. We ascended up the left side of this valley, because our plan was to climb the northeast couloir.
After climbing the headwall to 13,400 feet, it was time to put on the crampons and break out the ice axe. Here was are preparing to enter the couloir directly behind us.
Quick shot after a couple hundred steps into the couloir.
Here is our route taken from our descent route in the northwest couloir.
Chad attained the summit a little after 9am. He is not as avid peakbagger as I am, so he allowed me to go summit Conundrum while he enjoyed the summit of Castle to himself.
Here is a photo Chad took of Conundrum Peak. If you look closely, you can see me standing at the summit.
Chad and I met up again in the saddle between Conundrum and Castle. This is where we began our self-arrest training. In other words we had a blast glissading down many portions of the mountain. We did actually practice techniques of self arrest.
With the copious amounts of snow, there were some amazing waterfalls along Castle Creek. We were back to the camp a little after noon ready for a hearty lunch at Coyote Cantina in Johnson's Village
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