Rotator Placeholder Image
  • Mt. Bierstadt Group Summit - Front Range, Colorado
  • A rest before the summit push on Dallas Peak - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Broken Ankle + 6 Miles = Tired
  • The classic San Juan approach - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Overlooking Noname Basin from Twin Thumbs Pass - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Upper Noname Basin - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Nearing Noname Cabin - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Twin Thumbs Twins - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Nearing the summit of Pt. 13,736 - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Blustery day on Iowa Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Morning snow at 15k, Cerro Ramada - Cordillera Ramada
  • Artesonraju from the summit of Nevado Pisco - Cordillera Blanca, Peru
  • February crowds on Gray's Peak - Front Range, Colorado
  • Kicking steps on Cerro Lliani - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Final traverse to the summit of Wheeler Mountain - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
  • The long walk to Pachanta - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • banner31
    Afternoon at 17k on Cerro Ramada - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
  • banner22
    The final ridge on Iowa Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Summer summit on Longs Peak - Front Range, Colorado
  • A rest day at the Pachanta Hot Springs - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Mind over matter on Mt. Parnassas - Front Range, Colorado
  • Rest stop on Cerro Lliani - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • banner30
    Post nap surprise on Cerro Ramada - Cordiller Ramada, Argentina
  • Summit on Cerro Lliani - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • banner23
    Ridge walking on Grizzly Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Enroute the summit via the West Ridge on Pacific Peak - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
  • Mule train bound for Chilca - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Taking in the view from Fletcher Peak - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
  • Hiking on Silverheels - Mosquito Range, Colorado
  • Traversing! Gladstone Peak - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • banner24
    The best of times at Willow Lake - Sangre de Christo Range, Colorado
  • banner29
    High Altitude Cerebral Edema? - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
  • Bound for Chilca - Vilcanota Range, Peru
  • Going alpine light, Holy Cross Ridge - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Cumbre! Campa I - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Roadside lunch with the best of company - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • banner25
    Long ridge walk to the summit of California Peak - Sangre de Christo Range, Colorado
  • banner28
    Crossing el Rio Colorado . . . in the afternoon - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
  • banner37
    Dealing with Fall snows high on Casco Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Moonrise over Mercedario - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
  • Still climbing at 20,900 on Cerro Ramada - Cordiller Ramada, Argentina
  • Talus on Halo Ridge, Mt. of the Holy Cross - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • banner26
    Deteriorating conditions on Mt. Arkansas - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
  • banner27
    After the climb - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
  • banner38
    Taking in the view from the summit of Crystal Peak - Tenmile Range, Colorado
  • Topping out on Mt. Arkansas' North Couloir - Mosquito Range, Colorado
  • Glissade on Mt. Arkansas - Mosquito Range, Colorado
  • Hard snow morning on Teakettle Mountain - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Spring snow announces the start of the climb on Dallas Peak - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Crossing the Eolus Catwalk - San Juan Range, Colorado

Castle Peak

June 15, 2000 - Northeast Ridge

Castle was my first peak of the Elk Range and I was curious about the “red, rugged, and rotten” motif mentioned in the earlier Borneman and Lambert guide.  I figured I would start with the least challenging of the range and had checked out the approach during the fall of 1999 when Debbie and I had camped at about the 11,000 mark on the Montezuma Road.  I returned to the same camp spot, just above the Pearl Pass road cut off, and made camp for the night. 

The next morning I started out from camp and headed out up the Montezuma Road to the 4WD parking spot at 12,500 feet.  I could have driven to about the 12,000 mark but I was, and remain a 3000-foot gain proponent, so the road march was inevitable.  Castle Peak rises above the end of the road and may be reached from the road’s end by the northeast or northwest ridges.  I chose the route to the northeast ridge because except for the final 500 feet of vertical, it would be exclusively a snow climb.  I climbed the berm at the end of the parking flat and hopped onto the snow.  The route is flat, then climbs, then a gentler rise and a climb to the saddle between Castle and Conundrum Peaks.  The snow climbing was moderate and as I was a beginner, I took it easy and prepared for the self-arrest option in the event of a fall.  The snow was hard and perfect for cramponing, making a degree of caution for a beginning cramponer the appropriate option.  I topped the saddle, added a wind layer and made for the summit

The trail to the summit wound up the reverse side of the slope and provided easy access to the top of Castle.  After a snack on top, I headed back to the saddle, tried the glissading technique, and soon arrived at the base of the slope.  Up on my feet; walk across the flat, and then onto the butt again for the slope leading down to the end of the road parking spot.  It was one hell of a lot faster trip down than my climb up just an hour or two before.  Castle on snow was both a good climb and means of putting to use the snow travel skills I had learned during a three-day course with CMS in Estes Park.  The course had covered the use of crampons and ice axe for ascents and the axe once again for unanticipated descents.  Without such background, I would not have set foot on the hard snow on Castle or any other 14’er.


Alternate routes: the Northwest Ridge and the North Face Direct