Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Castle and Conundrum

To climb these, I met up with Gabe again at his house on Friday afternoon where he promptly informed me that the weather on Saturday would be terrible, and we decided not to even try to climb that day. We had a 3-peak weekend planned, but with the weather so bad on Saturday, we ended up just climbing Castle and Conundrum. So, Friday night we drove 50+ miles on dirt roads trying to find a party that he'd heard about. Alas, it was to no avail. We did see the moose that night though, which I think is as good or better than a party.

Anyway, on Saturday morning after a 2:00 AM wakeup call, we picked up Gabe's friend Dan and started driving toward the Elk Range. The Elk Mountains are near Aspen, or Ass-pain as Gabe calls it. We got a chilly start around 6 AM, surrounded by clouds left over from Saturday's horrendous weather. We hoped the sun would come out and burn off the clouds, but we were greeted with this view from the summit at around 9:00:

We took advantage of a rare moment of (relatively) little fog to snap this summit pose:

The plan was to hold a beer pong tournament on the summit, however two factors were working to our disadvantage:

1) We forgot to get cups and ping pong balls
2) It was really cold. Like well below freezing and windy at times.

From the summit of Castle, we spent a good hour debating whether or not we should continue to Conundrum. The conditions weren't ideal, and we were concerned the fog would hinder our route finding. We took the opportunity to bone up on our juggling skills:

After an hour of debating, we decided to go for the gusto and try to hit Conundrum too. We're glad we did this, because it was a quick 45 minute walk that would have been tough to get lost on. Additionally, the route down from Conundrum provided the opportunity for a really good glissade. The most important part of this glissade was braking fully before getting to the crevasse above a small lake. Somebody told us the crack in the earth is caused by a glacier flowing under the scree

(the crack is covered with snow where we would have hit it, had something gone wrong)

The rest of the route back to the truck involved a lot of glissading on the still plentiful snow. Overall, it was a pretty easy day but a lot of fun.

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