| Snowmass Splendor
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....
Let me start off this trip report with the months of planning that went into it. My climbing partner turned Floridian and his wife were wanting to come out for the Blues and Brews fest in Telluride. The thought process went something like this:
Why not come out early and do a 14er?
Wilson and company, to many days to do them right
Windom and company, too much $ for the train
Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre, we did that 2 years ago
Sneffels, both done it already
Holy Cross, I did last year
Snowmass.... Sure, that sounds fun
Months later we found ourselves meeting at the Snowmass trailhead.
Starting off in a light rain that was not to stop for the better part of the next 12 hours, we made our way up the trail. Due to the rain we stopped short of the lake by about 2 miles at some nice camp sites half a mile below the log jam. We knew it would make tomorrow 16 miles or so but figured that was better than continuing to get soaked and setting up our tents in an increasingly stronger downpour.
Waking up around 630am we made short work and were on the trail. Passing the log jam we saw a bald eagle fishing. I had not seen one in Colorado in a couple years so that alone made my trip. Past the lake we got soaked in all the wet brush as we made our way up.
Pretty loose rock past the lake as you head up into the basin more. We hit snow from the storm about 12000 feet, and it maxed out at about3-4 inches up towards the top section. Taking the ascending climbers right as suggested on the 14ers route we made slow going to the notch. Too much snow, or not enough, we hit an unhappy middle ground of hidden and slick rocks.
Up through the notch below the peak itself the summit came into sight. The last section reminded me of Wetterhorn in that it was surprisingly solid. And except for the snow we had little issues gaining the summit. The view was spectacular is all I can say. We got out of there after about 20 minutes on top and made our way down, passed the lake, broke down camp, and to the car around 8pm. Long day but well worth it.
Note 1: The fall colors were great around 10000. The next two weekends this trail will shine. Most of the small stuff is changing colors now as can be seen below, and the larger aspens are thinking about it.
Note 2: Kudos to my climbing partners. The woke up in Jacksonville, FL on the 15th and were camping near the log jam that night. Then on the 16th they did a 16 mile 14er in snow. Talk about a quick change of scenery, try sea level to Snowmass in 24 hours!
The Grand Floridians. Sea level to over 14k in 24 hours
Yours truly on the trail up. One of the 10 minutes rain free on the hike in.
The log jam in the morning light
Em and Jesse crossing
These are the pictures and memories that make all this worth it. Wow this is a neat place! I need a $3000 camera for times like this, not my $89 walmart special. I can not say enough how a wide angle lens would have improved the picture?
Looking up the route from the lake. Snowmass Mtn is the middle peak of the group on the right.
"You may not pass!"
Looking back down on the lake.
Em and Jes over the first hump above the lake. Those rocks just above the lake are the worst.
Looking down from around 13,400
Looking up from around 13,400. Aim for the notch center left.
Looking down from the notch.
The final push once past the notch
Resting on top of the world
We got buzzed by a small plane. Came in to the valley, then circled around and did a fly by. Could see him wave. Seemed like he was 50 feet off the peak, but I bet he was several hundred yards in reality. Was kind of cool, never had that happen before.
Looked like he was heading over to the Bells as well.
The crew on the summit
So I didn't expect the blast of snow. My feet were frozen and I committed the cardinal sin of not carrying my extra set of wool socks that I do on winter trips to use as spare socks or mittens. So what is a guy who can not feel his toes anymore to do? I emptied out my two waterproof stuff sacks and cinched them around my feet. Worked like a barrier and my toes started to get feeling again. Of course at first it was the burning, oh my goodness my feet are on fire, type of feeling. But I must say that feeling is better than no feeling, and by the time I got below the snow I was able to take them off and my toes were normal again.
Heading out past the lake
Parting shot on the way out showing the fall colors
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):