| Mt Jasper - Northeast slopes
Mt Jasper (Indian Peaks)
Trailhead: Fourth of July
Elevation gain: 3,100
Start: 7am Summit: 12:30pm
Arriving at the trailhead a bit after 6:30am, the wind was howling above with low hanging clouds. I met a couple of guys at the trailhead who were going to make an attempt in the Skywalker couloir. Neither of us was too pleased with the weather, but we were hopeful it would soon change for the better. (which it did!)
The first section of trail is clear, if only a bit wet. I made it to the the turn off at the Diamond Lake Trail, without any snow. After the junction, there are some sections of snow still left, but nothing too bad. Only trouble with the patchy snow covering the trail, is this less traveled trail gets obscured, and I found myself looking at old mining remains. Looking at my map, I realized that I had missed the trail curving to the SW.
View of the mine:
The navigational troubles would continue, as I neared the stream crossing. With all the melt water, the area is quite marshy with plenty of standing water flowing on the surface. I follow what I think is the trail, and find a roaring stream that is too deep to cross. I searched for the official stream crossing, but never found it. So I don my plastic boots, to trek around in the marsh to find an appropriate crossing point. After looping around for quite some time, I found a log that looked solid enough for a bridge. I take a waypoint with my GPS, so I can find this spot again. This was very useful, as I would find out later.
On the other side of the stream, the snow is virtually continuous in the trees and rather deep. With my large plastic boots on, I float on the surface easily. I make frequent checks of my GPS to make sure I am following the correct route. There are no obvious foot prints that I can see, even though I could see plentiful ski tracks on higher slopes earlier.
Once I get close to the 11,190 point, that I am skirting to the south, I start to get some views of the way ahead.
Turning around I can see the sky clearing to the north, with a nice view of S. Arapaho and Skywalker.
Arriving at the first ledge or meadow area, now approaching treeline, is a beautiful sight of the way ahead.
The route is to the far left in this photo:
Some ski tracks coming down the slope (to the right of the previous photo):
I frequently looked back at Skywalker, to see if there was anyone attempting it. I doubted it, as snow conditions were not ideal.
Once reaching the unnamed lake, you get the first view of Mt Jasper up close.
I ascend the snow to the rock band, just above the dirty snow in the middle left part of the above photo. Here I take out my inclinometer to take a reading on the slope ahead. The next section up to the next section of rocks is ~35 degrees, but after that it steepens much higher. Since I am solo on this trek, I decide it would be safer to get onto the east ridge and continue from there.
Approaching the east ridge:
On the ridge:
Gaining the ridge also brings the view of the lovely southeast face of Jasper. I had thought to do the Snow Lion route, but I decided against it, especially without a partner for the climb.
View of the upper couloirs, with Jasper's false summit on the right:
View farther south along the ridge:
The last pitch to the summit is quite steep. I didn't take a slope measurement, as I was so focused on getting up before the snow got any slushier. Nearing the false summit you need to avoid the rock outcroppings, and potential post-holing or worse. You veer right then left around the rocks. Near the top, the snow was so soft, I effectively had to plow through it.
View from the false summit, over to Jasper:
Making my way off the false summit and over to the true one, there was some lovely rime ice formations that I had to stop and observe, before they fell off the rocks, as it warmed in the bright sun.
Made the true summit a little after noon, with only happy fluffy clouds in the sky. Nothing threatening today.
View southwest, with Winter Park melted out:
View of Indian Peaks to north:
Me, after the 4th attempt to get a good shot with the fast camera timer:
Nice view of the Arapaho peaks, back on the false summit:
As I start my descent off the false summit, the first trick is to figure out how to attach my ski poles to my pack. They don't collapse that much, and I didn't want them to hit my head during the glissade. After a few attempts, I found letting them drag behind was the best strategy. On this first steep glissade, I play it safe and go down very slowly. The run-out isn't that good, and there are a few rock outcroppings to avoid (which you'll see my path swerve to avoid in a future photo).
My long glissade down the northeast face, with quite the pileup of sloughed off snow:
With the weather holding amazing well, and no clouds in the sky, I take my time on the way down. Above the lake there is the wreckage of a small plane crash evident. Lower on the descent, I decide to travel close the lake, to take some photos. (On the way up I stayed higher up on the slope, to avoid losing elevation, but instead had to scramble over large boulders)
A bush that is growing horizontally along the ground. Must be windy here!
The second glissade I let it rip, as the slope lessens and the run-out is excellent. The farther down I go (glissading where ever possible), I find it difficult to see my own tracks from the morning. The sun is melting everything so quickly, that over the course of the day, tracks are disappearing. This must be why I couldn't find evidence of previous climbers, the sun had melted them away. Now I am quite glad to have taken a waypoint of the stream crossing, so that I can navigate easily to it.
Taking some time to smell the profusion of pretty flowers along the trail on the other side of the stream:
One last parting shot of Mt Jasper, before I enter the trees:
Overall this was a very wonderful and fun snow climb, and I had it all to myself! The only other people I saw were on the lower trails and at the trailhead.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):