Castle Peak, Colorado, Backcountry Ski Descent (June 5, 2005)


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | June 5, 2005      

After all the new snow accumulation this early June here in Colorado, we figured the central Elk Mountains might have some amazing backcountry skiing conditions. Correct. The highest part of the Elks is that in the area of Castle Peak a Colorado fourteener that rises above a permanent snowfield known as Montezuma Glacier. Louie and I met up with Mike and Steve Marolt, Kevin Dunnett and Aron Ralston for a fine Sunday adventure (Aron is correct spelling).

Backcountry Skiing Castle Peak
After a few thousand vert of powder filled bowls that made my jaw drop as to the quality of this June snow, we are on the final approach to Castle’s north face couloir. Marolts and Dunnett up ahead, Aron is over on Conundrum Peak out of the photo. He’d done this route recently and wanted to try something different for some backcountry skiing and mountaineering.

Backcountry skiing Colorado.
Climbing and skiing the north Castle couloir is an ancient tradition for Aspen area snow hounds, and somewhat a rite of passage. The Marolt’s father Max ran a summer ski camp here for a few years in the 1960s, and the Marolt boys experienced some of the first backcountry snow in this very spot. Come to think of it, so did I, and here is my son on crampons for the first time. Yes, there was some icy stuff under the pow layer so the spikes came in handy.

Castle Peak summit, Colorado
Castle Peak summit, 14,265 feet. Looking out over a few hundred square miles of the incredibly crowded Colorado backcountry that we’re all supposed to bum out about — except it looked pretty good from here. The Marolts, Kevin and Aron all ski on Atomic MX-9 planks with Fritschi bindings. I swear this is some kind of conspiracy.

Backcountry skiing Castle Peak.
Louie headed down Castle Peak. We skied from the exact summit down a wind swale that leads to the couloir. Route from summit is D-8, actual couloir is D-7 in our rating system.

Aron met up with us as we were slogging some scree over a shoulder to reach another great pitch. He skis very nicely using his prosthesis to hold a pole. Watching Aron today,I was reminded of the way climbers sometimes get seduced by ski alpinism. That happened to me way back when, and appears to be happening to Aron. He’s certainly got the skills for the "mountain blend," as well known California guide Bela Vadasz calls the melding of skiing and climbing.
(Red dots mark today’s route on Castle, Louie on left, Aron on right.)
Backcountry skiing four wheel drive.
And what’s a day of skiing without some four
wheeling to top it off? Louie just got his learner’s permit,
that’s him driving, take my word for it. I was out of the vehicle
taking photos legally under the Colorado Department of Transportation
parent’s hero shot clause (page 38, section C, paragraph 2, line
5, column 6).

All that radical skiing and 4-wheeling worked up quite an appetite. We ended up at Boogies Diner in Aspen with our crew of Aspen glitterati. The price of the burgers was worth the conversation, and I have to admit the milkshakes were impressive — definitely a step above a Wendy’s Frosty. And let me just say I’m glad Aron is such an easy going and nice guy, (especially since I was sitting to his right).

In all, a fun and interesting day. And how about our June powder skiing? It’s been quite a season, and it’s not over yet. Rest day tomorrow, then we hope to hit it again.



IF YOU'RE HAVING TROUBLE VIEWING SITE, TRY WHITELISTING IN YOUR ADBLOCKER, OTHERWISE PLEASE CONTACT US USING MENU ABOVE, OR FACEBOOK.

Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


Comments

  Your Comments


  Recent Posts




Facebook Twitter Google Instagram Youtube

WildSnow Twitter Feed



 



  • Blogroll & Links


  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

    All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

    We include "affiliate sales" links with most of our blog posts. This means we receive a percentage of a sale if you click over from our site (at no cost to you). None of our affiliate commission links are direct relationships with specific gear companies or shopping carts, instead we remain removed by using a third party who manages all our affiliate sales and relationships. We also sell display "banner" advertising, in this case our relationships are closer to the companies who advertise, but our display advertising income is carefully separated financially and editorially from our blog content, over which we always maintain 100% editorial control -- we make this clear during every advertising deal we work out. Please also notice we do the occasional "sponsored" post, these are under similar financial arrangements as our banner advertising, only the banner or other type of reference to a company are included in the blog post, simply to show they provided financial support to WildSnow.com and provide them with advertising in return. Unlike most other "sponsored content" you find on the internet, our sponsored posts are entirely under our editorial control and created by WildSnow specific writers.See our full disclosures here.

    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

    Switch To Mobile Version