I received a text message from a buddy who lives in Casper, WY stating he was coming to Colorado for the weekend and wanted to go out camping. We were ready for something harder than the 12,000 and 13,000ft mountains we were used to. After spending several hours searching for good fishing and a difficult workout on Backpacker.com and 14ers.com, I called up my friend's Brice and Kory and presented the idea of camping at Snowmass Lake and then climbing Snowmass Mountain the next morning. Being big into fishing they we're both game.
Off work at 7pm. One beer at the bar and we all decided to drive that night from Longmont to Glenwood Springs to get an early start Sunday. After arriving in Glenwood Springs at 2am we attepmted to get some sleep in the back of Kory's Subaru Outback. Interesting to say the least... three guys in a wagon. The smells we're bad enough yet alone sleeping that close to another man.
5:30am wake up. We parked in the Village Inn Parking lot. BREAKFAST!
Arrival at trailhead around 8am
Village Inn Bed and Breakfast, lol
8:30 departure to Snowmass lake. We all felt really good that morning and set around a 2MPH pace. The views get better and better as the trail goes up in altitude.
Brice and Kory with Awesome views
After reading the other trip reports I was very excited for the log jam. We had no iccidents and most of the logs don't budge.
The much anticipated log jam crossing
The trail becomes slightly more difficult at this point around a few switchbacks to the lake. It felt like this part took forever, but this was just anticipation.
Top of the switchbacks. You're almost there
We all took a long moment in awe when finaling seeing the lake. It's much better than this picture.
Snowmass Lake Arrival, Great Fishing
We set up camp on the north side of the lake. Right after setting up camp my fishing buddies got right to catching dinner. The fish are almost too easy to catch here. Mountain house and trout. Delicious.
Camp. What the hell is Kory doing with his sleeping bag?
The next morning was going to be a tough one so we got an early nights sleep. We started our walk to the other side of the lake at around 8am.
Sunrise the morning of the summit
After traversing the boulder field over to the glacier run off waterfall we began our steep accent. This was a not technical route other than not being able to see some of the ice under the water. A few spots took some slowing down to make sure you had a good hand hold in case your foot slipped.
Waterfall Climb- ICE!!!
Looking back on the lake on the waterfall, again I stress watch for ICE
After gaining the first ledge onto some greener areas it was time to repair some blisters. Kory and I both had sore ankles from moving to fast on the way up. Kory and Brice both had blisters due to new boots.
We continued up another several hundred feet in elevation and left Kory on a flat rock. His ankles we're not in good enough shape to traverse to the top of Snowmass and I am glad this decision was made after personally crossing the ridge to the peak. I wish I would have had an ice axe at this point. There were several areas that we were post holing, sometimes to our waists. The snow was soft and made glisading down tough.
Kory and I with Snowmass in the backround
Steep Snow Climb. Catching Mike at start of ridge
After reaching the ridge I learned what Brice and I had not researched. The ridge to the top. We met another gentleman named Mike at the ridge that has done all the fourteeneers and he was very helpful. We kept good distance from each other to keep from having a rock incidents. At several moments we all knocked rocks free from the size of a classroom globe to the size of a old fashioned chest. Everytime a rock would come down I was having to slow my heart rate and pull myself back together to complete what I had almost finished (I wasn't even thinking about the decent yet which was just as hard.
I think I bit of more than I can chew
After making it almost to the top I looked back to take a picture of a terrifying moment in my life that I will never forget. The rocks on the Elk Mountains are just waiting for the slightest pressure to break free and possibly take you and other rocks with it. This was a big lesson for me. I will do much more research in picking my climbs from here on out. This was past both my ability and Brice's ability. I was risking my friend's life and mine. My next climb will be a class 2. We are both in good physical shape and have done some bouldering. It is a whole different story with the exposure we faced on Snowmass. To anyone who is in the same position I am in ( just starting to climb 14ers), this is not a begginer climb! Do NOT make the same mistake I did.
Looking back at my death defying stunt. So I thought
After reaching the summit. Mike, our savior, told us we should have done an easier mountain. He did give us a congrats on our first 14er however and was impressed with our abilities. (He must not had seen me having to sit down 4-5 time to stop shaking and slow my heart rate, lol)
Brice and Myself reaching the Summit of our first fourteener
USGS Banech Mark, Why no elevation?
The route down seemed much easier after spending some time with the exposure. I can see how people are addicted to climbing these mountains and I think I am ready to start my adventure of climbing every 14er in Colorado. The glisading was ok. You could make it about 500ft at a time, but we we're trying to avoid rocks the whole way.
Brice and Mike Decend the Ridge
This was a great trip, other than some minor injuries. I was also given a lesson in humility. From this point forward I will stick to mountains within my abilities.
We will see you again Snowmass...