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4-pass Loop in June for beginners

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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4-pass Loop in June for beginners

Postby crichards61 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:32 am

So I am looking to bring a group of about 8 college kids for two weeks to backpack in colorado. We are all flatlanders from the east coast. We have a good knowledge base of weeklong backpacking on trails like the AT. We have some experience with traditional climbing and we have no experience with ice climbing. We have some limited experience with hiking in Colorado. I have researched multiple loops and here is the trip I have planned.

Week 1 (second to last week in June): Camp at Kite Lake and acclimate to the altitude by climbing Mt. Democrat and Mt. Bross over a couple of days. Maybe hike part way up the first day and back down. I am hoping by the end of this week we have acclimated to the altitude.

Week 2 (Last week in June): We are planning to do the 4-pass loop. Off of the 4-pass loop, we were hoping to hike Snowmass Mt. and possibly one of the Maroon Bells. I understand that this is extremely ambitious. So I have several questions about conditions and gear that I was hoping that we could have answered.

Will we be able to do the 4-pass loop (just the loop) without snow climbing gear? If we need snow gear could we get by with spikes or are cramp ons required?

Will everyone need cramp ons and ice axes to climb Snowmass Mt?

Will Harness and ropes be required to climb Snowmass Mt?

Any additional information would be helpful. Thanks for your responses.

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Re: 4-pass Loop in June for beginners

Postby jomagam » Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:44 am

Kite Lake is beautiful, but spending a week there is way too much. I'm not an expert, but I imagine it's better for acclimatization to spend some time at lower elevation. I'd find a campsite at say 8-9k feet and have day trips from there. First to 10k, then 11-12-13-14k each day.

I don't have first hand experience with the Four pass loop, but my hunch is that it'll have snow on it even in late June, especially in a year like this with a decent snowpack. I'm sure other will have better info, but my guess is that you'd have to do some yucky postholing during the day.

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Re: 4-pass Loop in June for beginners

Postby randalmartin » Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:47 am

Snowpack is significant this year. June is too early in my opinion for your week 2 plans. There are several high passes on the 4pass loop that will be holding significant snow at that point. The main issues are that snow will be very soft/wet and difficult for travel (postholing). I personally wouldn't do the 4 pass loop until mid-July.

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Re: 4-pass Loop in June for beginners

Postby tlongpine » Mon Mar 31, 2014 11:12 am

I did it July 4th a couple years ago following a historically low snowpack combined with a historically warm Spring and there was still snow on 3 of the 4 passes. However, this years snowpack is much more substantial, and the weather much cooler, so I would expect the passes to hold a significant amount of snow through most of June.

You may also encounter vehicle access issues into Kite Lake. In years with significant snowpack the road isn't accessible to Kite lake until late-June / early-July. It shouldn't add much distance, but just so you're prepared.
I am unable to walk away from the mountain without climbing it. An unclimbed mountain tugs at my consciousness with the eternal weight of time itself. Until I've pressed my face into it's alpine winds, hugged it's ancient granite walls, and put it's weathered summit beneath my heal I'm unable to resist it's attraction.Knowing nature gives the mountain more time than she gives us adds urgency to the obsession. As has been said before; the mountain doesn't care.

It can wait forever. I cannot.

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Re: 4-pass Loop in June for beginners

Postby vonwax » Tue Jun 24, 2014 8:29 pm

Hi OP,
Just curious, are you still going forward with hiking the 4 pass loop? I'm thinking of going with some friends over the 4th of July weekend. I'm interested in hearing what the conditions on the passes are like.

Thanks!

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Re: 4-pass Loop in June for beginners

Postby agoody117 » Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:26 am

vonwax wrote:Hi OP,
Just curious, are you still going forward with hiking the 4 pass loop? I'm thinking of going with some friends over the 4th of July weekend. I'm interested in hearing what the conditions on the passes are like.

Thanks!


We are heading out June 30th and bringing snowshoes and iceaxes. A group tried it a few days ago and couldn't make it over the first pass, but they didn't have snowshoes.

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