| Screaming Scrambling Fun on Snowmass's S Ridge: Part 2
Snowmass Mountain: 14,092ft.
Assent route: S Ridge from Lake Geneva
Descent route: West Face to Lake Geneva
Elevation gain: 3,142ft.
NOTE: If you have not read the first half of this report (Part 1) Part 2 will not make much since. Follow this link to read Part 1
After having a snack and resting for a few minutes we moved on to what would be the easiest and least exciting section of our climb on the S Ridge. This second section was about 280yds. long and relatively flat in comparison to what we had just climbed.
The only steep part was about two thirds up. This second section of the S ridge was very much like two over sized steps up the side of the mountain.
Climbing to top of the second step gave me a good view of the final third of this section.
It didn't take long to finish this second section of the S Ridge. Soon we were looking at starting the final section of our climb. Things were about to change for the better. Upon reaching the base of the third section we were happy to see a short pitch of class 4 climbing in front of us. We weren't sure what the conditions would be like when we toped out on this pitch, if there was no way to retake the ridge we might have to down climb the whole thing. There was a well-worn trail to climber's left at the base of this climb that would take us up the backside of this class 4 pitch but we were more interested in a challenge. Again things would work out for us.
The pitch was nice solid rock with a few vertical parallel clacks that served well as hand and footholds. Once at the top I worked my way around the to the right. After a few airy moves on this exposed side I caught up with Greg who was sitting in a small notch around the corner from the top of this pitch. It was clear to me that the climb for now was going to require a bit more of my attention than it had previously.
From the notch the next section of the climb comes into view. The rock here is a bit smaller more jagged and steeper with a few more being loose. It's a bit more difficult to stay on top of the ridge here sill the climbing is loads of fun. Lost of exposed scrambling with the occasional class 4 move. If the exposure here is not for you, you can drop off the ridge top to climbers left for a less exposed scramble.
A little ways further up the ridge we had a better view of the route coming around the backside. I'm glad we took the route we did because the route around the backside looked to have a bit of nasty loose scree.
The climb up to the midway point of this last section of the S Ridge continued to require our full attention. Beyond the midway point (about 13,750ft.) things begin to become easier. The terrain eases off a bit the rock continues to get smaller and looser, it becomes clear that the summit is near.
From here we continued on towards the summit, as we moved forward the climbing turned into hiking. The ever-expanding view was a nice compensation for the diminishing excitement of the scrambling now behind us.
We summated at 11:20 am.
The views from the top of Snowmass did not disappoint us, kind of nice to see Capitol and the Maroon Bells from this perspective finally. I have always enjoyed the views of Fravert and Hasley Basins at eye level but from up here they look even better. I did miss something in the view, what happened to the snow mass? I don't know if it was my perspective or not but I can't remember seeing so little snow above the lake before. Global warming?
Our time on the summit was all to short due to a thunderstorm building to the south over Crystal Canyon. We had originally planned on descending our assent route, I wanted to get more pictures and altitude beta, but the storm was coming our way fast so we had to use the wet face as a storm escape route.
We made our way down the north ridge on nice solid rock and dropped off into a large drainage on the west face. To our dismay we found all that loose rock that was missing from the S Ridge. I kept looking at a photo I had downloaded from this website of the west face route thinking I had dropped us into the wrong drainage. I was in the right drainage. After climbing the S Ridge I was spoiled, in comparison down climbing this route just sucked! It didn't help that the storm did move in and had spit just enough rain around to make the rock slippery and the exposed areas muddy. Man I was happy when we reached the talus below the cliffs bands. The down climb may have been a pain in the butt but it was over shadowed by the pleasure of climbing the S Ridge and could not take the polish off a wonderful day. We found our way back up on to the shelf that holds Little Gem Lake and took the approach trail back to camp. We arrived at 2:00 pm.
Looking back on this whole experience I am glad I had the pleasure of getting to climb Snowmass via the S Ridge, it was a Blast! I wound happily do it again.
If you are considering doing this route, have strong scrambling skill, don't mind a little exposure and can safely move with awareness among a few loose boulders I would have to say don't miss this one. This one is a classic climb.
I hope you enjoyed my trip report and I hope the beta is useful to you. Let me know, thanks.
Be safe and travel well!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):