Castle Peak

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Michael finally gets to scratch Castle Peak off his list.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

Michael had run out of excuses- he had to climb Castle Peak. For obvious reasons. It's perhaps the most obvious peak in Idaho, at least if you climb mountains: it is hard to see from the highway.

He chose the Washington Creek trailhead, I suspect because it offers the most challenging drive. So after a night on the ground, we were on our feet right at 7am, headlamps blazing.

Trail head
The pace was also blazing, and we were looking into Washington Basin before the sun was up. Sunrise on Washington Basin
Our first view of Castle came while we were still in the shade of morning. Sunrise on the Pioneers

But when we hit the saddle, it was full daylight. And warm. This is October?

Tim found this view to be at least as much as promised.

For clarification, today we climbed the gully to the right-most notch in the summit ridge, not the long, sloping ramp that climbs right to left.

Sunrise on the Pioneers

At the outlet of the lake, we paused to reload.

Then it's up through the sagebrush to the top of the trees. And then the talus begins.

 

Sunrise on the Pioneers

Ahh, the talus.

It's really sort of a mix of sand, gravel, and talus. If that makes it better.

Then you traverse into the gully proper, and it turns into toiling up loose boulders.

Sunrise on the Pioneers

As we toiled our way up, these guys appeared for entertainment.

No snowshoes

The gully provided the rest of the entertainment.

Bob decided that he was slowing us down (not) so was waiting below.

Camp

Michael had studied the trip reports: Look for cairns about 200 feet from the top, left side.

Well, where the heck are they?

We found the ledge system before we found the cairn. Pretty wimpy cairn. Especially with all that material around. Someone needs to take lessons from Tom.

Camp
We figured it out. Take a ledge system around an arete, then climb the next gully to the west. Here's Michael at the top of the second gully, as seen from the summit. Camp

Summit.

And high noon.

Camp
Castle is a long ridgeline of fairly even height. Consequently, there is some debate about which of the towers is highest. This is looking west, and the high spot on the right is the 'summit' that Julie and I climbed in 2007. Camp

And from our 2007 trip, this picture is looking east. Today's high point is the 'summit' on the left.

I'll let you decide, but Michael said that some serious minds had decided that today's highpoint is the true summit.

Camp
Whatever- it's all good. I will say that the route with Julie (blue) was more pleasant, while the route with Michael (red) was more technical. Camp

...so back to the climb.

The winds today were raging, so we decided to put lunch off until the rock climbing was over and we could get some shelter in the gully.

So here's Michael and Tim descending the top of the second gully.

Camp

And making the ledge traverse from the arete back into the main gully.

This route is probably a bit of Class 4, which is roped climbing without using protection. Except we didn't have a rope.

Camp
I had more opportunities for photos on descent, so these show the route better than those on the way up. Here's Michael and Tim near the top of the gully. Yum, loose stuff. Camp

And this is about mid-height in the gully. There was all sorts of weird rock.

Camp

It was with some relief that we exited the gully and got onto hikable terrain.

We found Bob at the outlet, irritated that our noisy descent had spoiled his goat stalking.

Camp

Then it was back up another 800' to the saddle.

Michael and I have decided our major goal for 2016 is to not climb anything that requires uphill on the return to the car.

Camp

Map.

Great day with a great bunch of fellers.

And what's up with 70° at 6PM in October in Stanley?

Camp

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