| Snowmass Mountain: S Ridge from Lake Geneva
Peak: Snowmass Mountain, Elk Range
Date Climbed: June 10, 2007
Group: Stu (marmotman) and Ben (benners)
Route: West facing couloir to S Ridge
It had been a while since I had been in the Elks and Snowmass was on my list so Stu and I decided to go for the S Ridge, a class 3 alternative to the standard route which can be done in a day from Lake Geneva. We also brought along a friend of ours, Jay, to take pictures and hike to the lake with us. We departed for Aspen at 6:00pm and arrived in the town of Marble around 10:00pm. The road to Crystal was rough on the 4 Runner but nothing compared to the 4 wheel drive road between Crystal and Lead King Basin. This stretch of shelf road was incredibly rough, we high-centered the 4 Runner and spent 3.5 hours getting it off of the rock on which it was perched. Because of this we used up our sleep time and decided to head to Lake Geneva after a granola breakfast. The hike from the Lead King Basin TH to Lake Geneva was gradual and short, maybe 2 miles at most.
Jay taking pictures of the Maroon Bells
Upon arriving at the lake we said farewell to Jay, pumped some H2O from the MSR Miniworks, and headed for Snowmass around 7:00am.
An icy Lake Geneva
Snowmass Mountain from the Southwest side
We decided on a direct ascent of a snow couloir which met up with the S Ridge at about 13,500 Ft. (or the middle of the "S") to mix up the climbing a bit.
Our route, the S Ridge can be seen to the right
The couloir ended up being a snow/rock mix which stayed at Class 3 for most of the time; there were what felt like a few 4 moves. In hindsight it appears that we were 2 couloirs south of the standard route which Bill posted on this site, it ended up working out though and we eventually gained the S Ridge as planned.
Stu ascending the bottom of the couloir
The ridge was a fun scramble with minimal exposure. There were a few moves which required caution but for the most part the ascent to the summit was a breeze. The weather looked a little sketchy for a short period but stabalized quickly and gave us a window to summit.
Stu on the S Ridge
Looking East at Pyramid and the Bells
We summited at 11:00am and in typical fashion found no one else on the entire mountian. I have been lucky enough to find myslef alone on many 14ers in the middle of the busy months. We took turns taking pictures on top of the summit boulder and ate some Shot Blocks. The Capitol/Snowmass connecting ridge looked plain nutty. Maybe someday we could give it a shot.
Stu (left) and I on the summit, Capitol Peak in the background
Looking back at Lake Geneva
We descended the standard route, self-arresting most of the way to the base of the mountain. We reached Lake Geneva at 1:00pm to find that Jay had returned to the car (he left a note under a rock). After reaching the car we ate some more dehydrated lunch packs, packed up and headed for home. We decided to take the other route from Lead King Basin to Marble (the road between the two is a loop), thinking it may be an easier passage. This decision ultimatley launched us into a 24 hour ordeal with the 4 Runner. Not to go into too much detail we got the 4 Runner stuck and had to hike 5 miles to Marble and stay the night. We then had to borrow snow shovels and hike back up the following morning to free the beast from a snowfield. We also dealt with creek crossings and several downed trees. Our advice: stay away from this road until July.
Fording a creek, one of many obstacles to come
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):