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2012 Fall Gathering - Snowmass

Need a climbing partner? Trying to form a hiking group for an outing?
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Re: 2012 Fall Gathering - Snowmass

Postby SpringsHiker » Fri Sep 21, 2012 11:32 am

Rock-a-Fella wrote:I am with Tyler in feeling bad about preaching but at the risk of sounding like it, please understand that the West slopes and the S-Ridge are serious routes. I think many would join me in saying there are no "Gimmies" in the Elks; even for accomplished mountaineers.


Not at all! No question that these peaks require serious focus and attention. The sobering thought is that those who died recently were accomplished mountaineers; their tragedies did not read like rookie mistakes but rather the situations where something goes wrong in a split second. Any of us could experience such a thing. Fun for sure, but safety foremost!

Good on ya speaking up.

I am just about to head out the door for Marble. Memories of those who recently passed doing what we will be doing this weekend will be very present in my mind. Thoughts and prayers for their friends and families; lots of reflection on them will be part of the experience this weekend.

Scott
"I am not a fizzy yellow beer drinking ninny!"

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Re: 2012 Fall Gathering - Snowmass

Postby FCSquid » Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:57 am

Just a quick update on yesterday's Snowmass climbs: About 10 people or so made it up the S-Ridge without incident yesterday. Four of us continued over to North Snowmass as well.

A couple of people chose to descend the S-Ridge while the rest of us used the West Slopes route for descent. Everyone got up and down safely, so hopefully today's climbs on Snowmass go as well as yesterday's.
"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
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Re: 2012 Fall Gathering - Snowmass

Postby flintster » Sun Sep 23, 2012 7:24 pm

Apparently everyone was scared off because it wasn't too crowded on Snowmass on Saturday. There were 11 people in 5 groups. A group of 2 ascended the west ridge very very early. 3 groups (of 3, 3 (us), and 2) ascended the S Ridge mid morning, and a solo climber hit the summit from the West Slopes around 2. My group (flintster, scottfarish, halfdomer) was the only group to descend the S-Ridge - which was a long and tedius descent - but felt much much safer. Everyone else descended the West Slopes.

Squid - I think we saw you on the summit for all of a few seconds but we heard a much different story back at camp. Was told there was lots of rockfall on the descent and a lady even tumbled 20ft and injured herself during the descent of the West Slopes. Another climber (named mike) at the gathering hiked out with her and made sure she was okay.

Glad everyone eventually was okay.

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Re: 2012 Fall Gathering - Snowmass

Postby MountainMedic » Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:22 pm

Glad everybody made it down safe and hope fun was had by all. Did anybody tag Hagerman? I'm curious how many times it was climbed this year.

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Re: 2012 Fall Gathering - Snowmass

Postby nkan02 » Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:40 pm

flintster wrote:Apparently everyone was scared off because it wasn't too crowded on Snowmass on Saturday. There were 11 people in 5 groups. A group of 2 ascended the west ridge very very early. 3 groups (of 3, 3 (us), and 2) ascended the S Ridge mid morning, and a solo climber hit the summit from the West Slopes around 2. My group (flintster, scottfarish, halfdomer) was the only group to descend the S-Ridge - which was a long and tedius descent - but felt much much safer. Everyone else descended the West Slopes.

Flinster - I don't believe you had much choice but to descend the S ridge - since you left 3 sets of poles at the bottom of the ridge ;)

West slopes were fine. True, the (unknown to me) solo climber set off a couple of rock slides :evil: , but everybody in the group was very spread out, so thankfully, it did not cause any damage. The 2nd slide was worse, since Luke was directly below, and he had to duck under the large rocks hoping nothing would hit him. Overall, West slopes proved to be a much faster way to descent - even if we had to wait for over an hour for the slowest people in our group to make it past the waterfall, we still were back in the camp about 2 hours ahead of your group.

Re: 2012 Fall Gathering - Snowmass

Postby forbins_mtn » Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:44 pm

wow, guys. sounds like a hardcore Gathering. I'm so happy everyone is safe!

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Re: 2012 Fall Gathering - Snowmass

Postby scottfarish » Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:53 pm

I have zero regrets about descending the S-ridge as compared to the west slopes. I'm not condemning any of the other groups for doing so, but my gut feeling told me it was just a bad idea... I have heard *way* too many horror stories about that side of the mountain. Yes, it took us an additional two hours more than what it took the other groups, but I'll pay that price rather than having to worry about playing dodgeball with 1-ton boulders.

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Re: 2012 Fall Gathering - Snowmass

Postby flintster » Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:54 am

nkan02 wrote:
flintster wrote:Apparently everyone was scared off because it wasn't too crowded on Snowmass on Saturday. There were 11 people in 5 groups. A group of 2 ascended the west ridge very very early. 3 groups (of 3, 3 (us), and 2) ascended the S Ridge mid morning, and a solo climber hit the summit from the West Slopes around 2. My group (flintster, scottfarish, halfdomer) was the only group to descend the S-Ridge - which was a long and tedius descent - but felt much much safer. Everyone else descended the West Slopes.

Flinster - I don't believe you had much choice but to descend the S ridge - since you left 3 sets of poles at the bottom of the ridge ;)

West slopes were fine. True, the (unknown to me) solo climber set off a couple of rock slides :evil: , but everybody in the group was very spread out, so thankfully, it did not cause any damage. The 2nd slide was worse, since Luke was directly below, and he had to duck under the large rocks hoping nothing would hit him. Overall, West slopes proved to be a much faster way to descent - even if we had to wait for over an hour for the slowest people in our group to make it past the waterfall, we still were back in the camp about 2 hours ahead of your group.


Yep, we would have had to go get those poles either way. Glad that the west descent was faster for you, I wasn't really worried about the timeliness of it all.

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Re: 2012 Fall Gathering - Snowmass

Postby nkan02 » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:10 am

Are you guys doing a TR? I can volunteer to do one, but I just don't want to do a second one in case somebody is already working on it.
Last edited by nkan02 on Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
It has frequently been noticed that all mountains appear doomed to pass through the three stages: An inaccessible peak - The most difficult ascent in the Alps - An easy day for a lady. Albert Frederick Mummery, My Climbs in the Alps and Caucasus

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Re: 2012 Fall Gathering - Snowmass

Postby FCSquid » Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:53 am

I plan to put one together, but it won't be soon. It usually takes me a while to compile one. Glad everyone made it out okay as well.

I agree with nkan02 - the West Slopes really aren't that bad. We were (with one exception) all able to mitigate rock fall by moving carefully. The biggest challenge was at the bottom at the waterfall. If you ascend the west slopes, the route to the right of the waterfall is intuitive, but you can't see it on the way down. Natalie and I took a sketchy, wet line next to the waterfall, and Luke took a steep, loose line to the climbers left (and had to hide when a climber kicked rocks down above him).

Once we were below, we were able to guide the others down a ledge system to the climbers right of the waterfall that has the easiest exit. We booked it back to the campsite at the trailhead once we got everyone down out of the Class 3 terrain. Even after turning on the afterburners to get out of Lead King Basin, I was still 3 hours behind schedule.
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Re: 2012 Fall Gathering - Snowmass

Postby ztop » Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:43 am

MountainMedic wrote:I hear you on the "ideal conditions," but IMO they're not actually ideal. Sure, it's a great time of year, but the lack of snow and ice last winter means that much of the loose crap supporting the talus didn't get washed away with the spring melt, and thus the base of many of the scree fields doesn't support climbing as well as it normally does. Rob was explaining this to us on Snowmass a couple hours before the accident, and Bill (wildlobo71) and I talked about today as well. I'm no geologist, but it seems reasonable to assume this has played at least some role in the excessive number of climbing accidents in the Elks this year.

One of the things that helps to hold these talus piles together is that there's often ice under the surface that doesn't melt in a normal summer. These are called rock glaciers and in some of them you can actually see the glacier-like lobes that slowly move downslope. Don't know for sure, but the lack of snow last winter would cause more sub-surface melting, too, making the whole pile less stable.

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Re: 2012 Fall Gathering - Snowmass

Postby Rock-a-Fella » Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:47 am

ztop wrote:
MountainMedic wrote:I hear you on the "ideal conditions," but IMO they're not actually ideal. Sure, it's a great time of year, but the lack of snow and ice last winter means that much of the loose crap supporting the talus didn't get washed away with the spring melt, and thus the base of many of the scree fields doesn't support climbing as well as it normally does. Rob was explaining this to us on Snowmass a couple hours before the accident, and Bill (wildlobo71) and I talked about today as well. I'm no geologist, but it seems reasonable to assume this has played at least some role in the excessive number of climbing accidents in the Elks this year.

One of the things that helps to hold these talus piles together is that there's often ice under the surface that doesn't melt in a normal summer. These are called rock glaciers and in some of them you can actually see the glacier-like lobes that slowly move downslope. Don't know for sure, but the lack of snow last winter would cause more sub-surface melting, too, making the whole pile less stable.


+1 on the melting, moving rock glaciers in the Elks!!

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