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How's the Sawatch lookin?

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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Re: How's the Sawatch lookin?

Postby GeezerClimber » Sat Nov 23, 2013 2:11 pm

It's snowed here for two plus days. Not a ton in the valley since much of it melted on contact but there is a ton up high. I think it is safe to say anyone wanting to climb anything in the Sawatch will now need flotation until late spring.

Dave

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Re: How's the Sawatch lookin?

Postby wolfgangstiller » Sat Nov 23, 2013 7:00 pm

GeezerClimber wrote:It's snowed here for two plus days. Not a ton in the valley since much of it melted on contact but there is a ton up high. I think it is safe to say anyone wanting to climb anything in the Sawatch will now need flotation until late spring.


Dave, any idea about whether someone can reach Winfield on the 390 (Clear Creek Rd) or if many of the back roads are still passable?

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Re: How's the Sawatch lookin?

Postby GeezerClimber » Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:00 pm

wolfgangstiller wrote:
GeezerClimber wrote:It's snowed here for two plus days. Not a ton in the valley since much of it melted on contact but there is a ton up high. I think it is safe to say anyone wanting to climb anything in the Sawatch will now need flotation until late spring.


Dave, any idea about whether someone can reach Winfield on the 390 (Clear Creek Rd) or if many of the back roads are still passable?


I don't really know how far they plow CR 390. I highly doubt you could get to Winfield right now without a killer 4X4. They keep CR306 open to Denny Gulch TH all winter and SR82 to the LaPlata TH also. You can also reach St. Elmo all winter.

Dave

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Re: How's the Sawatch lookin?

Postby Rarefied » Sun Nov 24, 2013 8:57 am

wolfgangstiller wrote:
Dave, any idea about whether someone can reach Winfield on the 390 (Clear Creek Rd)

GeezerClimber wrote:
I don't really know how far they plow CR 390. I highly doubt you could get to Winfield right now ...

If things are as they were several Springs ago, forget it. I was stopped about two miles from Winfield at the time.

R

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Re: How's the Sawatch lookin?

Postby rijaca » Sun Nov 24, 2013 9:37 am

wolfgangstiller wrote: any idea about whether someone can reach Winfield on the 390 (Clear Creek Rd) or if many of the back roads are still passable?


Chaffee 390 is generally only plowed as far as the ranch 4 miles from Hwy 24.
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Spent a little time on the hill"

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Re: How's the Sawatch lookin?

Postby wolfgangstiller » Sun Nov 24, 2013 8:33 pm

Thanks so much for the update on the 390!

It sounds like the NW ridge via 82 is the way we'll be going. I have done that route in snow conditions twice before but I think we have more snow this year. Anyone know if the NW route (from 82) has been getting any traffic recently?

Re: How's the Sawatch lookin?

Postby goldenite » Mon Nov 25, 2013 12:03 pm

I'm looking to do La Plata this week or weekend. You say your taking the NW Ridge, but I've heard there's avalanche danger and its best to take Ellingwood Ridge (with the "nasty scree slope"). I'm not very experienced in high peak snow climbs, so I don't know if this is true or not. Can you let me know about the two routes in winter? Or, should I avoid La Plata until I have more snow experience? If so, I could do the Southwest Ridge to Sherman's saddle (sorry, not Sawatch) and summit Sheridan, which I missed the last time. Would that be a nice intro? Thanks so much!

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Re: How's the Sawatch lookin?

Postby Yikes » Mon Nov 25, 2013 12:48 pm

NW ridge is the standard winter route. Very few people have attempted/completed Ellingwood in winter (conditions).

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Re: How's the Sawatch lookin?

Postby wolfgangstiller » Mon Nov 25, 2013 1:58 pm

I did a little further research and current conditions indicate some significant avalanche risk on the parts above tree line on the NW ridge approach. It may be doable and we debated hiking in and assessing the risk when we get there but we have some newbees going along and we decided we wanted something they could more likely summit. We are switching to the East ridge of Quandary. That is kind of my go-to 14er for easy Winter access and relatively low risk. Only one short slope there which I have known to slide and it's generally in pretty good shape.

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Re: How's the Sawatch lookin?

Postby wolfgangstiller » Mon Nov 25, 2013 2:11 pm

goldenite wrote:Can you let me know about the two routes in winter? Or, should I avoid La Plata until I have more snow experience? If so, I could do the Southwest Ridge to Sherman's saddle (sorry, not Sawatch) and summit Sheridan, which I missed the last time. Would that be a nice intro? Thanks so much!


I would not attempt Ellingwood without a lot of experience especially in winter conditions. Even the La Plata NW ridge (or Sherman for that matter) requires some serious avalanche training to do safely with much of a snow load. If you decide to do Sherman check out the road conditions. I have had pretty good luck with that road in the winter since it seems to get plowed a lot but currently it is reported impassible 3/4 of mile below Leavick and that's for a 4x4 with 12 inches of clearance.

Re: How's the Sawatch lookin?

Postby goldenite » Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:43 pm

Thanks so much. As you can tell, I'm a novice. I just did Sniktau this morning and felt safe--there were cornices, but I knew to stay clear of them and the wind scour left some rock to work with, but there was a fair amount of postholing. (Should have brought my snowshoes.) I'm thinking to do James and Parry from St. Mary's on Friday, do you think that would be a good next step? Then possibly doing Sheridan after that? Another idea is to attempt the Berthoud Group, but now I'm thinking that would have too much avalanche danger. Do you know of any good avalanche training courses or is it something you pick up from hiking with knowledgable people? Thanks again and sorry for getting off this thread's topic!

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Re: How's the Sawatch lookin?

Postby falcon568 » Wed Nov 27, 2013 6:20 pm

Has anyone seen/heard anything on snow conditions for Massive or Elbert recently? I'm guessing from earlier observations on the range that snowshoes are probably needed. CAIC has the Sawatch at "moderate" avy levels, would the East Ridge routes for both be fairly low avy risk?
"Of course, inside each one of us is the ambition to reach the summit, to realize that you are stronger than obstacles, that it is within your power to do something uncommon and indeed impossible for most people. But one must be prepared to face those obstacles..."-Ed Viesturs

"When I was a child, I felt there was something I had to find before I died. I imagined it as some lost, golden country, glittering on the other side of the mist across our neighbor's fields, hidden within the shadows behind our stone wall—some place beyond the fixed patterns of society, the grey chronology that led inexorably to death. In my twenties, on my first free solo, the light seemed to shatter through me, and the sky pour down the rock. Like so many climbers, immersed in that sudden, radiant awareness of now, I've had that brief and total conviction that each moment is both fleeting and eternal"-Katie Ives

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