Ascent of Castle Peak on 2020-12-19

Climber: Dylan Kilby

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, December 19, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Castle Peak
    Elevation:9103 ft / 2774 m

Ascent Trip Report

Hiked this about a week after a fairly deep snowfall, which resulted in lots of breaking trail early on after starting on the PCT north toward Castle Peak. This was part of a single-day trip to grab Castle Peak and Basin Peak, which form part of the same massif.

I followed the PCT on snowshoes, which intermittently included some cross-country tracks as well as lots of trail-breaking. There is not much to say here; it is mostly hiking through trees, and I had some postholeing even with snowshoes.

Upon reaching Castle Pass, I turned onto the Castle Peak Trail proper and began the Class II snow climb up toward that peak. About 500 meters (1600 feet) from the summit, I turned off the trail due to extremely sugary snow and bushwhacked toward the col between Castle Peak and Basin Peak, where the trail was shallower and in the sunlight. I turned up the peak's northwest face and did the low Class III summit block with microspikes, being rewarded with some of the more intense volcanic formations in this part of the Sierras. I cached my backpack before doing the summit block, hence why my GPX stops at the first peak. But the route is pretty easy to follow: go slightly to the south of the first of Castle Peak's peaks, and it's an obvious traverse to the true high point. (Talk about frustrating; I like seeing that line hit the triangle on the USFS maps.)

After getting some views and good air, I retraced my steps and followed the ridgeline toward Basin Peak, which had significant wind drifts on the eastern side of the massif. After summitting Basin Peak (not too difficult), I snowshoed down the west face, met back up with the PCT, and continued to my starting place.

Total time: 6 hours, 33 minutes
Distance: 18 kilometers (11.2 miles)
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1886 ft / 574 m
    Grade/Class:Grade 3D, Class II
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Crampons, Snowshoes
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Some clouds, not many - but not clear.
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1886 ft / 574 m
    Route:PCT -> Castle Peak Trail
    Start Trailhead:Glacier Meadows Trailhead  7217 ft / 2199 m
Descent Statistics
Ascent Part of Trip: Castle Peak / Basin Peak (0 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Castle Peak2020-12-191886 ft / 575 m
2Basin Peak2020-12-19493 ft / 150 m
Total Trip Gain: 2379 ft / 725 m    Total Trip Loss: 171 ft / 52 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Dylan Kilby
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
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.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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