Conundrum Peak  
Condition Updates  
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2022-08-08, By: csf-lhiver
Info: Fun hike over to Conundrum with good views of the Maroon area. Descending is loose but going slow makes it fine. Once on the level part of saddle it's a quick walk getting to the base of Conundrum and ascending. Rock is for the most part solid here as well. That saddle descent is a bit sketchy. If I were to do these peaks again without snow to the top of the saddle, I would not descend the saddle and instead go back over Castle and descend via the NE Ridge. Since I started so early, nobody would be attempting that descent anytime soon which is what made me okay with going this way. Bring a helmet for this section if you plan to do it. Going back down the 500' headwall, the snowfield to hikers left made for a more stable descent than staying on the scree/talus. Micro spikes could be useful here especially on the steeper section of the snow. 
1
Route: Conundrum Couloir
Posted On: 2022-07-10, By: pbergmaier
Info: Couloir is still in for climbing. Skiing, not so much. A decent amount of rockfall and debris scattered throughout. There was also some active rockfall during my climb, thankfully below me. I had crampons and an ice axe, which are a requirement at this point. Would not have made it without both. Started ascending it around 9:30 and reached the top by 10:30. Maneuvering up the steep rocky mess to get to the base of the couloir was most unpleasant. Descended via saddle glissade luge. Melting out quick! 
7
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2022-07-08, By: mtgoatmike
Info: From Castle to Conundrum's summit there is zero snow. The glissade is doable, rocks are poking out throughout the run out...I tore 2 holes in my pants. Ice axe was very useful for decent control, if you don't have one, a hiking pole handle or even a good sized rock would suffice. 
Route: Conundrum Couloir
Posted On: 2022-06-18, By: AspenAlpinist
Info: Drove from Ashcroft to 12K on Montezuma Road just below the hairpin. Climbed right moraine headwall in crampons to apron of Conundrum Couloir. Couloir is in great shape with snow wall to wall. Used 10pt rigid crampons and dual axes. No rock fall. Cornice at the top is not a factor. Quick summit of Conundrum then walked the ridge to the exit saddle. Downclimbed top 30 meters then a nice controlled glissade to the lake. Easy glissading from the right moraine (climbers right) to basin. I don't think the exit couloir will last long as it takes a ton of solar. Bergshrund is already opening. SM 
1
Route: Conundrum Couloir
Posted On: 2022-06-08, By: ReggieBop
Info: Unlike Castle's N.Face Coulior last weekend of blizzard, thunderstorm and rain…. Conundrum Coulior was a balmy walk in the park. No snowshoes- left them at home (thanks to prior reports). Left the car at 6:30, scampered up to the summit at 10. The snow quality even with the warm day was superb. The cornice is there before topping out, very avoidable to climbers right. On the descent, downclimbed from the saddle- I was too scaredypants to glissade at mach30. Glissaded the head wall though- much many fun was had. And I ran into the Mayor of Pearl Pass on my way down. That man is a legend. Alllllll the cred to him, and his efforts in mountaineering and the community of Aspen. The realest of GOATs. He cannot be thanked enough! 
5 4
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2022-06-06, By: bsiegs
Info: Started from campsite 1 at 4am, but road is clear to creek crossing. Decided at the last minute to leave the snowshoes in the car and that was 100% the right call - postholing was not an issue. There's a few snow drifts to cross as you make your way on the trail/road to the headwall, but nothing too major. Spikes/poles were sufficient for climbing the headwall itself, and there's various sets of established tracks on it. Once gaining the Castle NE Ridge, it's dry to the Castle summit and over to Conundrum. Coming back, if you choose to descend from the saddle, I would highly recommend down-climbing it rather than glissading. I attempted to glissade, but underestimated the steepness and speed. Lost control for a stretch and sprained my thumb + banged knee before self-arresting. Could have been a lot worse. I think a big contributing factor was that I glissaded in a previously established glissade path which significantly reduced friction and sped things up. The headwall itself is probably a bit more glissadable than the saddle, but I didn't take any further chances and just down-climbed. Popped some ibuprofen and was able to finish up without any further challenges. 
1
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2022-06-06, By: swesleyc7
Info: (see Castle condition report for photos) The Castle/Conundrum combo route is experiencing "goldilocks" conditions right now, so get to it! Snowshoes were SOOOO last week ;) Leave 'em behind. The hiking road to the headwall is almost entirely clear of snow and requires no traction. The basin and headwall below the summits are filled with snow, however, my group left camp at ~8am so it was hard-packed and didn't require floatation. Bring micro-spikes for peace of mind, but it's likely you won't require them. After you climb the headwall, the scramble to Castle's summit has no snow and is safe. The saddle between the two has snow, but provides no risk. After the saddle, the scramble to Conundrum's summit has no snow and is safe. After you summit both, I advise returning to the saddle between Castle & Conundrum and glacade from there instead of re-summitting Castle to descend. Avalanche risk is minimal and the snow will be tacky enough to glacade in the afternoon, making your return trip that much easier and faster! Note: See the Trailhead page for TH driving conditions. 
Route: Conundrum Couloir
Posted On: 2022-05-30, By: jscully205
Info: Headed up early Sunday morning during a very brief weather window after a decently cold night. Approach started right before road steam crossing- downed trees and snow drifts start after this point. Discovered the Couloir itself to be great climbing shape with good firm snow and positive axe/crampons for the full length. Small cornice before topping out can eschewed by angling right on exit. Was going to ski it, but was hit immediately with a gusty storm with low visibility on the summit so decided to down-climb instead. I couldn't tell you the angle but I didn't feel all that that steep. I used two tools but 1 axe would have been fine. Castle Peak's north face looked good but the snow was not continuous to the ridge. See pic. 
4
Route: Conundrum Couloir
Posted On: 2022-05-17, By: Ericsheffey
Info: Conundrum Couloir & Castle and Conundrum Peaks // 5.17.22 Conditions: The road is clear to the creek crossing, and the creek can be crossed in a high clearance 4WD vehicle (picture of creek crossing in the post). Unfortunately just after the creek crossing there is impassable snow that stopped us pretty quick. Consistent snow on road from ~10,400' and up. The basin is still completely snow covered. Conundrum Couloir is in pretty good shape for a climb at this time. The cornice at the top is easily avoided by exiting skiers left. The North Face Couloir on Castle looked pretty dry with the snow quickly retreating over there. The snow reaches all the way to the top of the saddle between the peaks and the glissade was one of the highlights of the day. Crampons and mountain axe very useful on the approach through the basin in the morning, and vital in the couloir. No flotation used all day, although would've been helpful in a few sections on the hike out once things started warming. If you've been waiting to do C&C this year, nows the time to do it before the snow is gone. Pick a day that has a good freeze the night before and send it. 
13 1
Route: Conundrum Couloir
Posted On: 2022-05-15, By: zsapinsley
Info: Incredible day out in the Elks. We were able to park around campsite 6 and hike to consistent snow to skin from about a half mile past the bridge. Skin up to the bottom of the couloir was steady on firm enough, dust-covered snow. Got to the base of the couloir around 11am to find a relatively easy bootpack all the way up. Someone had glissaded down the entire bootpack that was established, and setting a new one wasn't too tough. Crampons and ice axe highly recommended, although I did it without. Beautiful and calm summit allowed for 20 minutes of 360 enjoyment. Ski down involved a bit of sluff management, but overall just hootin' and hollerin' fun. The ski out from there was blissful. 10/10 would recommend, although conditions are changing fast with the massive warm-up. 
4
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2021-09-12, By: Alpinefroggy
Info: Road has some ruts but saw some stock 4runners get all the way to Montezuma. Most high clearance 4wd cars can make it to Pearl Pass Road at 11k. On route: chossy and scree filled but not horrible. For the love of god though do not go down from the saddle. It starts out on Pyramid headwall steep trail and then appears to cliffout. Heard stories from Saturday of folks going down it and creating mini rockslides. Dangerous and loose. Just go up and over castle once again. 
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2021-07-15, By: novakproductions
Info: Took the south ridge route to summit only Conundrum. The headwall snow as well as the last uphill snowfield were wet, somewhat slippery, but doable with microspikes. Although it was raining which probably didn't help. Wish I would've had walking sticks as well. My buddy turned back due to no traction even though he had sticks. There is a big bare spot right in the middle of the last snow slope, which was super slippery with loose scree...had to progress on all 4's until I finally made it to the rocky outcropping just left of the remaining snow. Definitely recommend some kind of traction. Was able to glissade down all 3 snow fields safely. The Castle trail looked way better so all u need to get past is the headwall. 
3 2
Route: Conundrum Couloir
Posted On: 2021-07-03, By: jschooch
Info: The couloir was still in pretty good shape. Snow from top to bottom and still pretty hard snow when we climbed around 7am. There is a fair amount of debris in it from rockfall. 
2
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2021-06-23, By: bethany420
Info: lots of snow toward the top but with a 2am start time is was fine with spikes. we made it up to treeline in a nissan xterra but a hyundai santa fe made it about a half mile. glissade down had some rocks poking through and we had a little situation. would not recommend glissading from the top where the lake is, but if you do please help me reunite with my black and blue colored black diamond trekking pole! if you find it please email blazinbethany@gmail.com 
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2021-06-12, By: HikesInGeologicTime
Info: Some lingering snow covering the road just above the Pearl Pass Junction (can make for a confusing time staying on route in the dark), then lining the road just below the headwall, but mostly avoidable. Crampons and axe came in handy for ascending the headwall at dawn, but to judge by the sloppiness and sun-cupping on descending it around noon (though not so sloppy as to prevent a fun set of glissades), they probably aren't necessary for a later start. Snow is largely gone from the ridge leading to Castle but does briefly appear in some annoying spots, such as on the trail that would help skirt a Class 3 move on the crux that is rather awkward if you're short. Snow is entirely gone from the stretch between Castle and the saddle, then almost completely avoidable between the saddle and Conundrum. Partner and I wavered on whether to attempt a descent from the saddle. After watching a decently sized group assemble there, each person/pair waiting their turn, then watching those descending painstakingly downclimbing at least to the choke point, we made the painful decision to go back up and over Castle. This turned out, we felt, to be the right call; as we reached the summit with absolutely no pretensions of setting any FKTs, the duo who had begun their descent as we began our re-ascent had only just reached the top of the choke. Would highly recommend sucking it up and going back up Castle. Will try to post pictures when I'm back in Denver if my partner is still awake and willing to share. 
1
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2021-05-31, By: jrs1965
Info: Not a huge change from the conditions Eric had posted on the 25th. Although melting fast, we still parked at about 10,300, or about 1/4 mile past the stream crossing. Solid snow on the road after 11,000. Stream was a breeze to cross mid-day on the 29th. By the afternoon of the 30th it had raised a few inches with the warming temps and rain. We had ascended the Conundrum Col and then glissaded back down from the saddle. At 7 AM, we had mostly stayed to the left on the col due to the right being shaded and hard ice. The left was soft enough to kick steps into. Huge cornice at the top of the col. The North Col on Castle still looks to be filled in with a lot of snow. 
6
Route: Conundrum Couloir
Posted On: 2021-04-11, By: jmctigue
Info: Good freeze over night. Started hiking around 5am and didn't need flotation. Put snowshoes on to get up headwall but probably not necessary. Snow in couloir was firm (about 10am). Could kick steps most of the way (thanks to the three skiers who went up ahead of me) but there was some front-pointing too. Was straightforward getting around the cornice to the right. North Face couloir was looking pretty thin. Crossed over to Castle Peak and descended the north east ridge. The top of the ridge was good fun and a bit snowy. Snow filled the trail down to the headwall and was nice and supportive to walk on. Was able to glissade quite a way down, but the snow was getting very wet by the afternoon. Probably better to travel on skis so you can descend this area earlier in the day. I clocked the route at 17 miles and 4700ft vertical (road still closed in Ashcroft). 
7 3
Route: Conundrum Couloir
Posted On: 2021-04-05, By: JacobW
Info: Great snow in the couloir, the east face might even be skiable. 
2 3
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2020-10-17, By: arianna2
Info: Icy with spots where ice is covered with an inch or two of snow. Slow ski for the couple we saw do it.. No snow in the gully to the saddle. Crampons recommended. Trip report soon. 
8
Route: Castle and Conundrum
Posted On: 2020-09-27, By: mountainmaestro
Info: Traverse from Castle had very little snow and it did not require traction. We reascended Castle (but descended a couloir off the summit, see my Castle Peak CR) rather than taking the scree slope off the saddle. Others took that option and while it “went” they described the experience with swear words. 

Return to the main Peak Conditions page
© 2022 14ers.com®, 14ers Inc.