Ascent of Castle Peak on 2018-09-07

Climber: Andrew Kirmse

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Friday, September 7, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Castle Peak
    Elevation:9103 ft / 2774 m

Ascent Trip Report

With my 4WD Forester, I was able to drive about 2/3 of the way up Castle Peak Road from the 2WD trailhead until I was stopped by some large, slippery gravel where my wheels spun uselessly. A heftier vehicle could make it to the end of the road just below Castle Pass, and in fact two trucks were parked here. I met the PCT at the pass, and turned right on the trail to Castle Peak. After a steady gain of 1000 feet as the trail switchbacked steadily up the ridge, I was near the “tourist summit”, where many hikers stop. Several people were up there today. I bypassed it on the right, continuing to the second summit, where a photographer was hanging out. Down and up I went again to the third and true summit pinnacle. The west face was quite sheer with a huge dropoff, so I continued around to the south side, where it looked like people had climbed before.

I dropped my poles and climbed up to a small flat area under a deep vertical crack. It looked like I could probably climb up to the left of the crack, class 3, with lots of holds. A hiker right behind me went up first and made pretty quick work of it. There was some exposure here, but the rock is good, and I was soon on top. The USGS benchmark was obvious, and a register in a PVC pipe was covered by two small rocks. I reported the benchmark to the NGS, the first report since 1954, which was pretty surprising considering the number of ascents on the peak. I’m guessing many people log the tourist summit. The other hiker quickly took off, descending a slightly different way that avoided the big steps up we’d needed on the ascent. I had my lunch and then started down, very slowly, checking every hold and fighting off fear. A fall here would have been bad news.

Once down and past the other summit pinnacles, I turned right on the obvious ridge trail to Basin Peak, which is on the OGUL list, as is Castle Peak. This was a straightforward and pretty ridge walk with great views all around. I signed the register in the ammo can on top, and rather than descending west into Round Valley, which would have worked fine, I decided to return on the ridge the same way. A shortcut at about 8800 feet avoided going all the way back up to Castle Peak’s summit area. After descending to Castle Pass, I continued straight on the trail up Andesite Peak. This is a P300 on Lists of John, but only P299 on Peakbagger. From the tracks, it was clear that this trail is very popular with bikes. I veered right on a side trail that petered out, and then walked over loose rocks up to the summit. On the way down I went cross-country to rejoin the bike trail, and then the road at a signed trailhead. I had to walk a short way up the road to where I had parked.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3027 ft / 922 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1400 ft / 426 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Exposed Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3027 ft / 922 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1627 ft / 496 m; Extra: 1400 ft / 426m
    Loss on way in:1400 ft / 426 m
    Distance:8.4 mi / 13.5 km
    Start Trailhead:7476 ft / 2278 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Andrew Kirmse
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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