| James Peak/St. Marys Glacier
Should have created this report right after the ascent. But here it is, hopefully it will help you guys.
I heard James Peak is very doable in the winter so I decided to bring a friend along. I also wanted to practice my ice axe skills on the glacier.
We left Boulder at 6AM. Got to the trailhead around 7AM. The paid parking lot was completely empty. We paid the $5 fee and headed up the trail. For those who haven't been to James, the parking lot is 300 feet PAST the trailhead. So you need to park then walk back on the road for 300 feet to the trailhead, which has a sign that says "Glacier Hike".
Since we haven't gotten much snow in the Front Range lately, I expected James Peak to be bone dry, and boy was I wrong. Right from the trailhead, the trail is pretty packed with snow. Traction devices weren't a necessity, but Microspikes and crampons can make walking slightly easier. I was wearing my Columbia insulated boots and I didn't slip.
I have never been to St. Marys Glacier before, and when we got to the glacier, it was just astounding. It was covered completely in hardpacked snow. No postholing of any kind.
We took a break at the glacier and I did some ice axe practicing:
A shot of the glacier:
After we ascended the glacier, we lost the trail. But since the tundra was covered in pretty solid snow, we decided to aim straight for the summit and walk on the snow.
My friend Greta who will soon join this site
After we crossed the flat part, I decided that we should gain the ridge seen in the picture above. It is a more direct route to the summit and also avoids any avalanche danger (although there wasn't any that day)
About to gain the ridge:
We summitted around 1:30AM. We didn't encounter anybody else this whole time. I set up my Optimus Nova stove and made a hot meal for us:
Looking west from the summit:
We headed down after we ate. I decided glissading would be the quickest way down, and the snow was solid enough. We glissaded at least 6 to 8 times on the entire way down. Although sometimes when I hit a bump, I gain some air time and my butt hurts
Glissade trail left behind by us, just below the summit:
Me back on the flat tundra:
We got back to the car just after 4PM, and got back to Boulder in time for dinner at BJ's.
I have done twelve 14ers so far, but I have to say, this snow ascent on James Peak is more memorable than any 14ers I've done. The snow condition was perfect, and the weather cooperated as well.
Hope this report is helpful for anybody who wants to assault James Peak in the near future!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):