Route: North Face Couloir
Team: Ted, Jared Ettlinger
I heard Montezuma was skiing OK, so I called Jared and we were off. I had skied Montezuma Basin a whole lot, and I thought I might try to rally Jared for a summit ski. I still needed this one.
Once up there, we agreed, it didn’t look great, but it didn’t look terrible either, it was October. And the weather was perfect. Castle Peak/Montezuma Basin is a great asset to Aspen. On good years you can find excellent (by fall standards) snow as early as September/October, with continuous summit ski lines on both Castle and Conundrum peaks. With a 4wd you can be at the snow in an hour, ski and be home for lunch, driving past road bikers still hanging onto summer on Castle Creek Road.
We skinned the lower and upper basin, eventually booting up to the saddle between Castle and Conundrum. From there it’s 400 relatively easy vertical feet to the summit.
The crux, if you can call it that, is the initial section off the summit, flirting with the East Face, over rocky snow to the entrance of the couloir. From there, while sometimes thin, the couloir leads back down to the permanent snowfields and easier terrain back to the truck. Rock skis are required in October, and this day was no exception, but Jared manages a ski shop back in town, so we figured it would be OK.
Thanks to Gorsuch for all the tunes through the years!