Date: 12 July 2003
Ascent: Northeast Ridge (Dawson 4.3.2)
Descent: Northwest Ridge (Dawson 4.3.4)
Difficulty: Class 2 with glissade down snowfield
Base: 11,600 Montezuma Basin
Elevation Gain: 2,665
Base to Summit: 2.0 miles
Summit to Base: 2.3 miles
Total Distance 4.3 miles
12 July SP'ed from Aspen at 6:15 AM
Arrived at Montezuma Basin and parked car at 11,600 at 7:45 AM
Returned to car at 2:00 PM
From where we parked on the Montezuma Basin jeep trail (11,600), we hiked the remainder of the trail to the parking area at 12,800. We grounded lunch and other gear that was not needed; Rose Marie stayed with the gear; the dogs and I immediately left (9:00 AM) and continued up the basin to the first headwall. We negotiated the headwall over mature snow, using just boots and an ice axe. No crampons required. Steps were present and we gained the headwall quickly.
After arriving at the top of the headwall, we climbed east on a strong climber's trail using the northeast ridge approach described by Dawson. The trail was over loose scree for the most part and was unremarkable. There were several walls to negotiate near the ridge and in one case the dogs and I skirted the flanks of some cliffs on the west side. This skirting required a small amount of down climbing and caused some loose scree scrambling off trail but was not too difficult. No exposure encountered.
We passed three other climbers and arrived at the summit of Castle peak at 10:00 AM. Two other climbers were on the summit when we arrived. We took several photos, drank .75 liters of water (dogs), and ate an orange. We then down-climbed from the summit to the saddle between Castle and Conundrum Peaks using the northwest ridge route. Once at the saddle, I changed into long pants and a shell and then down-climbed loose scree for 100 feet to the top of the north snowfield. We then glissaded down the snowfield and returned to our rally point at the parking area. Running the snow was great fun for both the dogs and I. Rose Marie and I then ate lunch and recovered all gear. We hiked back down to the truck with no incidents. Really fun trip. Aspen was great. The drive up to Montezuma Basin was really fun and the weather was outstanding.
Climbing Party: Tim and Rose Marie Edinger; Winston and Milo (Sheepdogs)
Total Trip Time: 6 hours
Conditions: 1)Weather - Sunny; 2) Temperature - 80 Degrees @ Trailhead; 70 degrees at summit; no wind at summit; warm and sunny; no clouds; very nice.