While most trails this high are restricted in winter, this one's restricted anytime other than spring. In the summer and low snowfall years, there's too much rockfall risk, and in the winter too much avy danger. This route is best left to experienced hikers comfortable on skis and/or crampons.
While a dog can do the standard routes on Castle and Conundrum
, leave Fido at home if you plan on Conundrum Couloir.
Features: Views — Wildlife
Dogs: No Dogs
WARNING: This route is extremely condition-dependent. If you aren't comfortable assessing avalanche and rockfall risk, stay away from this one. Either way, wear a helmet. If doing as a snow climb, an ice axe, crampons, and compatible boots are a necessity. If glissading down, an ice axe is still necessary should a self-arrest be required. It is far too steep to skin.
Leave the Castle Peak
trail at around 13,100 ft, angling to the right of Montezuma Basin. Walking along the eastern side of Conundrum Peak
. Come to a couloir in less than a quarter mile and just about 200-300 ft of gain. This is more or less impossible to miss: it's the giant gully to the right. Climb up a 40-50 degree chute for about 500-600 vertical feet as the gully narrows. There will be rock bands on either side, and if snow cover is low, loose rock at the top.
Come to the top of the gully, possibly cresting a cornice. From here, continue about 50-100 ft to the right over to the Conundrum Peak
summit. Turn around for a glissade/ski descent, or take the Conundrum Peak
trail, heading up and over Castle Peak
, or simply descend into Montezuma Basin on foot or glissade.
With snow in the area, you're unlikely to see either plants or animals.