SilverLynx wrote:I'm no longer considering touching this peak any time soon. On that note, I think it would be of value to start a thread about which seasons are best for which 14ers and why, and which 14ers should be avoided when there is or isn't snow on them.
To everyone that goes, have fun and please be safe! Happy First Day of Fall (on Saturday)!
I don't think this is really about conditions - they look to be ideal right now, but just a high number of people on a notoriously loose mountain. Most who've expressed interest don't seem the type to not know quite what they're getting in to. Personally, the numbers for S-Ridge don't really worry me since I don't think there are too many places where you're veritically below other climbers (as compared to say, the gullies in North Maroon or the Hourglass ...). So I think risk can be mitigated if due caution is taken.
The gullies on the west face, though do concern me. Enough so, that I may elect to go up and down the S-Ridge rather than have to spend a lot of time directly below other climbers.
You are completely right about not being vertically below other climbers. My concern is that there are a number of very large rocks that will teeter when you stand on them. Many of these are close to unavoidable, and if they fell, would trigger an enormous rock slide to either side of the ridge. If the ridge's west side near the standard route were to collapse, things could get really bad really quick. It sounds like people know what they're doing, and that's great. Just remember - a lot of us who were 110% aware of what we were doing had a very rough season.
I hear you on the "ideal conditions," but IMO they're not actually ideal. Sure, it's a great time of year, but the lack of snow and ice last winter means that much of the loose crap supporting the talus didn't get washed away with the spring melt, and thus the base of many of the scree fields doesn't support climbing as well as it normally does. Rob was explaining this to us on Snowmass a couple hours before the accident, and Bill (wildlobo71) and I talked about today as well. I'm no geologist, but it seems reasonable to assume this has played at least some role in the excessive number of climbing accidents in the Elks this year.
I hate being preachy. It makes me feel like a douche. That said, I'd rather feel like a douche than see somebody else get hurt up there.