| What a weekend
After climbing the NW ridge route on Pyramid friday, finally getting it done after all the bad weather that turned us back throughout the summer, I regrouped in Aspen and then was on my way to Lead King Basin. This was my first time and I really didn't know what to expect, but here's on idea of my introduction :
This ws along the drive in looking back @ Marble. And then....
This was my view of Snowmass and Hagerman a little ways before the Crystal TH, not too shabby.
I downed a few Beck's in the parking lot w/ a guy who had just finished Snowmass, studied up on both routes, since I was more concerned with the descent of Hagerman than anything else, and then hit the sack around 10pm. The alarm clock went off @ 3:30 but I didn't hit the trail till 4:30am, was just feelin so lazy. The hike to the lake was amazing, got a nice view of the backside of the bells, a first for me and before I knew it, I was staring the Serpentine Ridge right in the face from Little Gem lake. I felt like Jeremiah Johnson trying to find a logical way to the base of the ridge or atleast a reasonable gully to commit to. I was bushwackin for a long while and was having a good time doing it, I love that s**t. Here's a decent idea of what I was trying to get at :
How's this for route finding, I looked at the gully, figured it looked reasonable and headed straight for it :
And then a close view of the gully, it ended up being an OK gully, just a bit of loose crap :
The S-Ridge is real easy to follow once your up there, its just long as hell, after all that time finding a route on Pyramid's NW Ridge, I needed a break mentally and I got it more or less, here's basically what I was looking at for a few hours, the summit never really seemed to get any closer it felt like, this mountain really is tougher than you think :
Once I finally reached the summit, I ran into Jon Frohlich and a few of his friends who had come up the Snowmass Lake route. The weather, up to this point, had been beyond cooperative and didn't look like it was going to change, there were some rain clouds and we could see rain over in the Carbondale area, but it wasn't really going anywhere. After this shot of Capitol :
I decided to commit to the traverse I'd been thinking about for quite some time since SarahT introduced me to it. A little background on this route. Sarah pretty much gave it to me like this : "I didn't have to think about any of the moves on Little Bear-Blanca, on this one I did". For 99.9% of this ridge, its "manageable" class 3/4/and a few low 5 moves (I remember 2). The catch is that 0.1%, the crux tower.
For those familiar with Cpt Bivwacko on the Little Bear-Blanca traverse, Snowmass-Hagerman's is similar except on roids and the only way through it isn't some exposed class 4 skootch around, its an intense, exposed class 5 move (on the RIGHT side, very much not the left). I started out on the left side, let me tell you why someone would be on this side of the ridge. There are 2 reasons. One, you are stuck and trying to get back to the right side. Two, you decided to hop off the cliff. Other than that, there is no reason to be over there. When I looked to the left, I saw a faint glimmer of hope and decided to go along with it. Here is a few of what I was negotiating, keep in mind that the pic doesn't reveal what was under me, which happened to be air and splintered boulders about 500 feet below :
There was an old blue rope on this side still hanging there, I went about 10 feet past there, made some attempt at what seemed to me like mid-5th class very exposed moves on questionable rock and then called it quits.
This is the west side route I took in Red, the rock over here was much better and the exposure was somewhat better.
What seemed like eternity ended up being only 30 minutes or so. On that left side, there were ways to get up, even without a rope if your into that kind of thing, but I really didn't like the rock at all over there, it was being held down by dirt. I got halfway up and could almost smell the top of that tower, but my heart was pumping and decided to climb back down. On my short traverse back to gain the ridge, I heard some creeking boulders I was stepping on, this was absolutely nerve wracking, and more on that later.
The rest of the route from here was pretty straighfoward except for the last tower before Hagerman's summit.
This was my last difficult move on this ridge and the last part as well. I probably made the single hardest move right at that red circle, I'm no climber, but it felt harder than a 5.0-5.2.
After that, the summit was all mine and the last entry was a week ago. While I was sitting there eating, I just happened to notice some lightning bolts over in Carbondale and immediately grabbed my pack and began the descent. This descent sucked and I'm way too tired right now to get into details. I never gained Trail Rider Pass, I dont think I found a legitimate route the whole way down and those splintered loose boulders are a hell of a lot more scary than the Bells and Pyramid's loose slabs. I have a theory that in a couple years that Snowmass group will be a pile of splintered rubble, every single boulder on that mountain is loose to some extent, its unreal, I've never experienced anything quite like it. The S-Ridge wasn't too bad, and the traverse was decent but the descent from Hagerman was an absolute nightmare. I got cliffed out about 3 times, hiked across a 1.5 mile boulderfield, had Geneva Lake in my sights and got cliffed out again and had to bushwack for a good hour and to top it off, every other boulder I put my foot on shaked.
But thats neither here nor there, I got everything I wanted to get done, there was great weather and I snuck in the extra added bonus of the NW Ridge on Pyramid (gametime decision as I was heading up I-70).
Word to the wise though, find a different route down from Hagerman other than the SW Ridge if you do this traverse. And this is enough for one weekend , no need to throw anything else in there, I'm depleted right now. Here are some extra pics of the basin and area, its a beautiful place.
Looking back @ Snowmass after the crux tower
Me on the summit finally
A look at the ridge from Snowmass
Geneva Lake from some vantage point my dumbass found while bushwacking
View of the Lead King Basin from along the trail near the waterfalls
Backside of the Bells
And to finalize, thanks a lot to SarahT for all the help with the info you sent me for this route, it was a lot of fun, I'm spent right now, but I'm sure I'll look back on it w/ fond memories. The inspiration of your webshots pics in of itself was what got me through this day, it was an uphill battle from start to finish and its a great feeling to finish out the Elks in a blaze of glory.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):