Climbers: traderaaron and Seth
Route: Hessie TH to Jasper Lake via Devils Thumb Trail then largely a trail-less environment once above the first waterfall above Jasper Lake. We saw a total of one cairn. We used the Storm Gulch route listed in the Roach IPW guide book.
Among IPW summits the 12ers aren't always very well known and among those 12ers I would think that Jasper is one of the lesser known. Many of the best routes are snow climbs or require off trail travel. On our summit bid we saw no one on the mountain or on our route, just a few day hikers below Jasper Lake on the way back down. The parking was fairly full but where were all the people. Hiking with their dogs to Lost Lake or some such place I am sure.
The pictures I saw of the Storm Lakes, the views from the summit and the description in the Roach IPW guide book of the waterfalls and glacial lakes that remain frozen until late summer were the hook for this route and mountain. While this is not a great mountaineering route and you have a long approach the approach itself from Jasper Lake is one of the highlights of the route in my view.
After crossing Jasper Creek you soon come to a trail that makes it way around the southwest side of Jasper Lake, multiple trails weave in and out but just make your way around the lake to the inlet area where you will likely pick up a climbers trail near the creek and below the first of a few waterfalls.
From here you will proceed around waterfalls, through wildflowers and up onto benches as you progress higher toward Storm Lake where the view of the rest of your route will open up. We saw more animal prints that human as we neared Storm Lake.
From Storm Lake you can gain a bench type area to your left to avoid the wet and willows that are nearer to the lake. You are wanting to generally aim for the grassy boulder slope you see in the picture above that is below the snowfield on the left. This is just south of Upper Storm Lake. Just find what appears to be the easiest route to get to the south side of Upper Storm Lake to then gain the divide and you should be in good shape.
Sunning on the warm tundra. Seth wearing his new Merrell Trail Gloves for this climb, worked relatively well for him.
Here we are just at the left of that snow field mentioned in the paragraph above. From here you head up onto the divide and walk the grassy alpine tundra up the south slopes of Jasper. This is the easy part of the climb.
Upper Storm Lake is not melting out this year
The views from the summit are very expansive in all directions.
A 13-14 mile day, 4100'+ of elevation and some off trail travel for one 12er is not exactly everyone's idea of a great day out but getting into an isolated and beautiful basin in the Indian Peaks Wilderness is for me the highlight of this route and makes the long day worth it. The satisfaction of having such a great place all to yourself while you can look out onto the front range is itself a great reward for your effort.
This was my 12th summit of the summer and my fifth in the IPW and I am really enjoying these 12er and 13er summits here. And thank you Seth for joining me on what we knew might be a long day. His experience in the Merrell Trail Gloves was generally a positive one in case anyone is wondering about these for hiking and climbing.