members of group: Mark Manko, Ben Koelker, and Zach Taylor
Castle Peak 14,265'
photo- A view of the north face of Casle Peak. Zach Taylor(left) and Mark Manko(right) are pictured. photo by Zach Taylor, 2009
It was mid-summer and I hadn't been out riding since early July. I was getting antsy so I called up Ben and Mark to see if they wanted to go get some turns on the Montezuma glacier and climb a 14er in the process. They both said yes. We drove to Aspen and part of the way up the Montezuma road. We set up camp and hung out for the night.
Early next morning we got up early and drove the rest of the way up the crazy 4 wheel drive road to the parking lot at 12,500'. The last section of this road is quite scary as the road is slightly angled in several places above steep hillsides. A car would roll down for a very long way. Mark's jeep did great. I think that is about the only car that can make it all the way up this road in the condition it is in now. I would not take my Chevy Blazer up it.
The base of the Montezuma glacier rose directly above us in the parking lot. We got our gear together and headed up. I immediately realized that I should have brought my axe. My guidebook rates the route class 2 so I didn't think it was necessary. It would have made life easier though. We carefully walked up sun-cupped glacier snow till we could get to talus again which we followed into the upper basin. The north face of Castle peak came into view above us. We stashed our snowboards just above the lower Montezuma glacier and followed a switch-backed trail up to gain the northeast ridge of Castle Peak. We scrambled along this loose ridge around some cliffbands and rocks and climbed up to the summit.
photo- Mark Manko(left), Zach Taylor(middle) and Ben Koelker(right) on the summit of Castle peak. photo by Ben Koelker, 2009.
Looking down into the north face from the summit is quite an impressive view. I will be returning to ride off the summit of this peak next spring. Since there wasn't any snow off the summit we hiked back down the ridge and returned to our boards above the lower Montezuma glacier. We strapped in and dropped in.
It was great riding for August. The warm day had slightly softened the convoluted sun cups and this made the riding a bit better. You can't ever complain about snow in August, its just nice to be out riding and making some turns.
photo- A look at Conundrum Peak from the summit of Castle Peak. photo by Ben Koelker, 2009.
photo-Zach Taylor(left,foreground) and Mark Manko(right, background) riding the Montezuma glacier. photo by Ben Koelker, 2009.
photo-Mark Manko(left) and Ben Koelker(right) hanging out at the top of the lower Montezuma glacier. Upper Montezuma glacier is pictured in background. photo by Zach Taylor, 2009.
We rode down slowly, taking our time and enjoying the view. We took some pictures and rode back to the parking lot. It was a beautiful, sunny day in August. What else could you want to do besides get up and do some glacier riding?
photo- Mark Manko riding on Montezuma. photo by Ben Koelker, 2009
photo-Zach Taylor getting ready to ride the Montezuma glacier. photo by Ben Koelker, 2009.
photo- Ben Koelker enjoying some nice summer turns on the Montezuma glacier. photo by Zach Taylor, 2009