This is my first trip report so a few quick lines about me as I finally created my profile today. I'm an MBA Candidate at the University of Minnesota and am in Colorado for a summer internship. I can't wait to get out here full time next summer but I've been having a blast every weekend in the mountains so far this year. I've done Elbert and Quandary, skied Torrey's and Democrat, and got chased off of Keiner's on Long's by weather so far. If people are interested in those reports I'll post them though they're a few weeks old.
So, my friend and I got to the trailhead around 3:00pm on Saturday after driving out from Denver. We started the hike around 3:30 and with the ski gear, climbing, camping and some photography stuff, my pack was heavy but not unbearable. The first few miles are fairly mundane through the woods until we started getting some nice views, especially just after 4 miles when you get your first glimpse of Snowmass Mountain.
Headed up on the way in
As the trail continued on we encountered the series of beaver ponds which were very nice especially later on in the afternoon. The log jam crossing wasn't an issue for us and we pushed on. The hike starts to switchback and climb around the 7 mile mark and heads up to the lake. We got to the lake after 8 as the clouds were starting to light up for sunset. I really wanted to get some pictures but we also had to get camp setup and food going. I was able to get a few nice sunset pictures at the lake, we made dinner, filtered water and set up camp and crawled in our bags around 10.
Sunset at the lake
Snowmass peak, lake and creek at sunset
We woke up at about 12:30 and packed up for the hike. The plan was to climb under the supermoon and be on top for sunrise. Well, the hike around the lake was kind of slow going as all of those thick bushes kept grabbing at my skis. Then the climb up the scree/boulder field was a nightmare. We were just to left of the stream as the route would suggest but it was very challenging and treacherous. Thankfully there was nobody under us at this hour!
Supermoon lights up snowmass peak and lake
We got to the snowfield at around 3:30 or 4, pretty tired and ready for some water and some food. It was pretty chilly at that point but it was cool being under such a bright moon. We put on our crampons and started pushing up the snowfield. This was my friend's first 14er so we were moving pretty slowly the higher we got. The sun came up as were at about 13,500 ft up on the snowfield. It was so cool to see it from such a high area as well as to be on the snow as it was basked in that alpenglow.
Hiking up the snowfield at sunrise
We stayed on the snowfield longer than the route suggests and gained the ridge just to the left (south) of the summit. This bit was quite steep but we made it up there and hung out on that flat spot for a bit. At this point, my friend decided he wasn't comfortable with the class 3 scrambling to the ridge so he glissaded back down a bit to a flatter spot in the snowfield to rest and wait for me.
I dropped my skis and climbed the ridge to the summit. On the way up I stayed high on the ridge was pretty exhilarating.
On the way back I stayed below the ridge where there was a bit more of a trail. I got back to my skis, clipped them on and dropped into the snowfield. The first few turns were pretty steep but a lot of fun.
Dropping in to ski
I skied to my buddy and helped him get the hang of glissading then we took off via our various methods of descent. The skiing was ok on the snowfield as the sun had definitely done it's work on the snow surface. I was able to make it down just to the left (skier's left) of the top of the scree field before having to dismount and take off my skis.
End of the snow
We went back down the boulder field, not any more fun in the light than dark. By the time I got back to camp I had just about hit the wall. It was a little before noon and I was just smoked. I drank a ton of water, had some food and we both took a nap for about 45 min.
We then packed up our camp and started the slog back to the cars.
At this point, the pack with all that gear was brutally heavy!! The last 4 miles I was in head down, black out the pain, ironman mode. My feet, shoulders and back were killing me. We made it back to the car around 6 and made our way into Aspen for dinner before heading back to Denver.
The hike out was brutal but it was still a great trip! That was my first 14er in the Elk Range and it was definitely a beauty! It was my 5th 14er since coming out over Memorial Day and 3rd ski descent. I'm having a great time and am pretty fired up to be a member of this great community. I look forward to your feedback on this trip report and hopefully seeing out on the peaks!
I made a video of the trip. Check it out and make sure you watch in HD!!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.