Conundrum Peak is an Elk Range mountain and named 14er that technically is a sub-peak of its neighbor Castle Peak as it doesn’t meet the 300-foot prominence requirement for official ranking. Nevertheless, it’s a great peak that’s often included as it doees have an official name. This Conundrum Peak Route Guide is for the easiest way of the mountain, though alternatives do exist to summit both peaks in one day. This is not an easy mountain, though it is the easiest Elk Mountains 14er. Take your time and prepare well with my Conundrum Peak Route Guide and other sources.
Conundrum Peak Route Guide Fast Facts
Conundrum Peak Route Guide - South Ridge
My Conundrum Peak Route Guide starts from the Castle Creek trailhead. If you have a 2WD vehicle, you should park here and continue along the 4D road. If your vehicle has good clearance and 4WD, you can continue 1.25 miles to a creek crossing.
It’s a good idea to get out of your car to inspect the crossing before you attempt it. There is a footbridge if hiking. If you are unsure, do not try, and park here. If you do drive on over continue 2 miles to a junction around 11,500 feet and take a right into Montezuma Basin.
Drive or hike past the Montezuma Mine as you ascend higher into the basin. Park around 12,800 feet or continue past the end of the road. As the trail ends, turn your eyes to the headwall ahead of you. Your next goal is ascending it to reach the upper basin. Climb 500 feet to reach this upper area.
Now your aim is the saddle below Castle and Conundrum Peak. This area holds snow late into the summer. During this time, an ice axe and crampons, along with the knowledge and skill to use them, are highly recommended, as a slip can result in serious injuries. In summer it is a scree scramble up to the saddle. Angle across the basin slope and traverse over and up to the saddle. This is the crux of the climb.
From the saddle, check the weather before continuing along the south ridge. You can see most of the route from here. Stay close to the crest of the ridge, using trail segments and ledges along the way.
Shortly along the ridge, pass through a band of cliffs up a pile of scree and reach a gentler section of ridge. Look for cairns and trail segments – if you stay on route, things don’t exceed class 2+ difficulty, but they get worse beyond it. Continue through rocks to reach the summit ridge. The true summit is the north point – continue along the ridge and drop into a notch. Climb up the wall opposing back on to the ridge and scramble up to the summit.
At the top, enjoy your accomplishment and the views. Be sure you head down with plenty of time to reach tree line before afternoon thunderstorms become a hazard. I hope you found my Conundrum Peak Route Guide informative and helpful!