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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2016-05-24||Route: East Ridge
Info: Current snow coverage on Massive's east side
|2016-05-21||Route: East Slopes
Info: Ski tour of Massive's summer East Slopes route starting from the Mt. Massive TH. 4 AM start. Marginal (if any) freeze - 33F at the TH at start time. Snow started ~1 mile in along the Colorado Trail (at the first major bend, where aspect changes from SE to NE), but discontinuous for the first ~0.5 miles. Due to poor freeze, no flotation = serious postholing, so a lot of skis on/off BS in that first half mile ate up a lot of time and energy. More continuous and somewhat firmer snow after that made for faster travel. Trail has not seen enough recent traffic for a real trench, just a hodgepodge of postholes, snowshoe, and now skin tracks. Kind of a mess, really. Major creek crossings currently all have snow bridges, but probably not for long. From trail junction sign, we could not find the summer trail, so just picked our own adventure up to treeline. From treeline to the 13,900' saddle was easy skinning on well-frozen, continuous snow. A few rocky sections, but we were able to keep skis on the whole time. From the saddle, we skinned to about 14,200' and then stashed skis before a major steep step along the ridge. Summit ridge had a few fairly steep and exposed traverses that we were happy to have ice axes for. The snow felt more or less supportive and stable, but I wouldn't want to be on those if it was less so. Rest of the route had minor (ankle-deep) postholing along a totally snow-covered ridge - no sign whatsoever of prior passage. Summitted around 10:45; as far as I know were were the only people to summit that day. The skiing was generally very good - the snow had corned up nicely, but was not too mushy until around treeline. We chose a conservative line from a few hundred feet above the saddle because we hadn't brought avy gear, but numerous more exciting options are available right now, including a descent off the summit proper, or the false summit. While we were able to piece together a continuous path more or less along where the summer trail goes, I don't think this will be possible for much longer (snow is getting thin on some of the tundra). Near treeline, we dropped into the Willow Creek drainage in hopes of an easier and more descent to the CT; initially this worked but the exit out through the aptly-named creek was a posthole nightmare. Rest of the CT required skins for the exit (too much up and down to glide out). Lots of postholing even on skis. Long, exhausting day, but happy to check that one off!
|2016-05-21||Route: East Ridge
Info: Boned it again. This time I lost the trail around 11,100' and basically psyched myself out regarding route finding and called it a day. Looking at my tracks and what I was thinking at the point where I turned back, it was the right decision. Still sucks. Anyway, same conditions as my last conditions report, though I can't speak for what's beyond 11,100'. I do have a picture of the mountain though.
|2016-05-14||Route: East Slopes
Info: Hiked to the Summit. Trail is dry for the first half mile then completely snow covered to the summit. We were able to walk on top most the way with minor post holing. Had to wade through a short section on the Summit ridge. On the descend Snowshoes were necessary from near tree-line until the last half mile.
|2016-05-14||Route: East Ridge
Info: I only made it to ~10.5k / 2.6mi due to unrelenting nausea, but here's what it looks like that far. To the creek crossing the trail is totally dry and clear of snow. After the creek crossing to about 10.2k the trail is maybe 90% covered with snow, that is mostly stable, but also very close to being mostly rotten. From about 10.2k to about 10.5k the trail is completely covered with snow that is very, very rotten. If you're lucky you'll find the pack and stay afloat, but if you're not, which seemed to happen even in places that looked like they'd be packed, you'll shoot right through up to about your knee. It's just really rotten - about what you'd expect this time of year. I'd imagine you'd definitely want snowshoes for the descent. I hope to give it another shot as soon as the weather allows.
|2016-04-23||Route: East Slopes
Info: Couldn't get to trailhead. Our Subaru Cross Trek got stuck in wet/icy snow on the road 5 miles from the trailhead. There was evidence that someone before us got stuck and had to turn around as well. Did Elbert instead. See separate post.
|2016-04-10||Route: East Slopes
Info: Conditions are the same as Deege reported - snowshoes in the forest and microspikes and/or crampons on the ridge. We had microspikes and were able to manage fine, but crampons would have been nice for a couple of sections. On the upper ridge towers we climbed to the right of the towers and descended on the left (facing summit) on the snow. If we had crampons we would've climbed up this snow but we only had microspikes and the snow was too firm to try to get up.
|2016-04-08||Route: East Ridge
Info: Fish Hatchery TH open and dry. Mostly snow/slush coverage from lakes to wilderness boundary. Good snow from there to lower ridge with some faint skin/shoe tracks. (Sorry for anyone following ours...they're a bit meandering in the woods after the turn off of Highline to gain the ridge, as the recent snow obsured most of the obvious tracks or trenching.) Lower ridge to notch was mix of snow and dry ground. Upper ridge was also mix, but with windblown hardpack about 100 ft. from summit. Started at 5:15 am and still postholed in the lower woods, especially if a step was just off the trench. Microspikes were helpful, if not necessary, for all snow sections in early a.m. and upper slopes with snow. Snowshoes were helpful in the morning from Colorado Trail intersection to ridge in deeper snow, and they were absolutely necessary in the afternoon from trees back to TH. Crampons would not have been a bad idea for final summit pitch in hard snow, but microspikes were acceptable. Didn't try for North Massive...my list is 58! Beautiful, warm day with slight breeze. Oh, and one remarkable note: my wife and I didn't see or hear another soul all day; had the route and the mountain all to ourselves. That's a first.
|2016-03-12||Route: East Ridge
Info: Conditions were consistent with the previous report from 11 March. If you're ok with the occasional posthole, the trail is well-trenched and barefootable all the way to treeline. Microspikes will expedite the process. We never used our snowshoes and ditched them around 12k'. From there, 90% of the remaining climb to the summit of Massive can be done on terra firma. A few notes on the traverse to North Massive: it is mostly dry, with the exception of a brief section on the first subsummit NW of Massive Green. In my first picture, I've pointed it out with red arrow. For this one 50 ft section up to the ridge proper, the snow was faceted, loose, and sugary. This was the only dicey part of the day, as it wouldn't have been possible to self-arrest here. Picture 2 shows the quality of the remaining terrain. Picture 3 shows the terrain leading up to the N. Massive summit.
|2016-03-11||Route: East Ridge
Info: Well packed trail / trench to timberline being traveled by a few people every day. I used snowshoes to avoid the occasional posthole on the ascent after leaving the Highline trail and for the entire descent. It may be possible to do without them, but I would not have wanted to do so. The ridge is drier when viewed up-close (Photo 1) than from a distance (Photo 2). Massive's summit came easily enough that I decided to attempt North Massive. I ran out of time, but conditions don't look impossible (Photo 3).
|2016-03-05||Route: East Ridge
Info: Just a quick note from cell if anybody needs it for Sunday: early morning, you can even bareboot all the way to turn-off from Highline Trail (spikes or sshoes can be anybody's preference). Trench from that point, then past rocky point 11827 to ridge above timberline has been re-established (worth noting that it took one windy day to bury most of it in drifts). As for ridge, largely dry. Snow field on east side above the notch at 13000. Today, rocks were in sun and dry. Sunday could be a different story in the afternoon See if anybody else produces a condition report
|2016-02-28||Route: East Ridge
Info: The East Ridge is in primo shape right now. The highline trail is well-trenched all the way to the willow bog where you leave the trail. From there, snowshoes are a necessity until you gain the ridge proper. The ridge itself is quite dry, but there are some snow slopes to cross which were bulletproof hardpack in the morning (softened nicely for the descent). I definitely wished I had brought crampons going around some of the towers. Microspikes did suffice, however. Spring-like day up there today!
|2016-02-13||Route: East Ridge
Info: Using the trench that was put in recently, I climbed the east ridge route on Saturday and finally put the route out on the site... East Ridge Route
|2016-02-11||Route: East Ridge
Info: The East Ridge of Massive is almost entirely dry above treeline. Most snow encountered above treeline is wind swept and crusty or packed. Below treeline the trail is well packed from the Fish Hatchery to the junction for the Colorado Trail and Highline Trail. From the junction there are two options. There is a snowshoe trail on the left (south, down the CT) that I followed to its end a few hundred yards from the junction and decided to make a skin track all the way to treeline where the East Ridge becomes visible. The other option is to go straight from the junction (west) further down the highline trail. I am not sure that this older skin track goes to treeline for the East Ridge or not. The route that I took from the CT winds and zig zags a bit, but does come out of treeline with a good position to tackle the east ridge. The snow can be crusty due to sun baking and re solidifying at night. Other than that, the route is good to go!
|2016-02-07||Route: fish hatchery
Info: I put in a skin track to treeline on the highline trail. Above treeline it is icy and wind hammered. It was VERY windy and there wasn‘t much snow being transported, so I wouldn‘t expect conditions to change much. I did not follow the East Ridge route, but skinned up the bowl just south of it. On climbers left of the bowl there is a N-NE facing slope that is wind scoured and pretty safe. Above this I followed the standard route up to the saddle just south of the summit. The remaining route was icy and wind hammered. Did I mention it was windy? The ski down was really bad with complicated route finding, and I didn‘t dare ski from the summit (loaded). All in all it took a little over 9 hours car to car. Good luck.
|2015-12-27||Route: Fish Hatchery
Info: First mile from the Fish Hatchery is in excellent condition with packed snow shoe and ski tracks like usual. I started breaking trail with snow shoes at the beginning of the Highline Trail. The trench leaves the Highline Trail and wanders through the trees to the Southwest toward Point 11,827. It ends up just to the South of this point and then heads West to tree line. The trench is not in great shape as I was the only one on it so far. It ranged from ankle deep all the way up to mid thigh in the deepest spots. There was some collapsing "whumphing" of the snow pack in the area near Point 11,827. Fortunately I was on lower angle terrain when it happened. I spent the night around 11,300. Very cold. It was all I could do just to break the trail to tree line and deal with the cold temps. I hope to go back with better weather and trench conditions with a summit attempt of Massive and North Massive.
|2015-10-25||Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: Packed trail up to 12,500‘ where we turned around due to a weak link in our team (don‘t hike in snow in extremely breathable summer running shoes, duh!). Above 12,500‘, there appear to be more than one packed trail. It may be useful to use GPS to follow the intended trail. Up to 12,500‘, we didn‘t break trail once. Microspikes recommended. I didn‘t put mine on until we hit the steep part ~1.5mi in. The descent would have been much more dangerous without spikes. Not enough snow to glissade below 12,500‘. A short (~50‘) glissade path exists at 12,500‘.
|2015-10-24||Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: Like the rest of the Sawatch, Massive got about 8-10" of snow in the previous week. This was distributed unevenly. Early on Saturday morning, much of the upper route (above 12,300) had 12-16" of unconsolidated powder, with occasional bare patches and wide drifts up to 3 feet. I broke trail for much of the route, but frequently couldn‘t find the trail and ended up bushwhacking. Traffic was heavy behind us (10-20 climbers), and by mid afternoon there were several well-plowed trenches, one of which actually follows the trail. Climbing and routefinding should be easy until the next snow or big wind, but be aware that (a) the trench through the boulder fields isn‘t always on trail (sorry), and (b) there are several off-route trenches above 12,300.
|2015-10-16||Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: Still clear from the trailhead all the way to the tippy top. I camped out overnight, and the low barely hit freezing. Conditions today were excellent with clear skies all morning, and I didn‘t notice any ice in the shaded part of the ridgeline. Careful if you are heading up to catch the sunrise; there are several spots were it‘s easy to lose the trail in the dark if your attention lapses, especially without a full moon to help out. Where you have a choice between stepping over a downed tree to your left or climbing a rock to your right, the rock is the correct path.
|2015-10-09||Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: We left TH around 6:10am or so, my car said 35 degrees, but it didn‘t feel all that bad. We both just put on base layers top and bottom with gloves and a ball cap. I hauled up a midlayer, soft shell, micro spikes, didn‘t use any of it. The section near the summit where you climb briefly on the other face was icy as it is in the shade, we climbed slowly keeping a hand or two gripped at all times, encountered a bit of early morning ice before the sun was up on the middle rock gully section, but nothing we needed spikes for, just a little caution. It was a bit chilly on the summit of course, but after we were protected from wind we ended up both taking off base layers and descending in tshirt/shorts, was 61 degrees at my car when we finished, super nice day.