TR: Jasper Peak - Snow Lion (Indian Peaks)

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TR: Jasper Peak - Snow Lion (Indian Peaks)

Postby SarahT » Thu Jun 07, 2007 8:29 am

Jasper Peak – 12,923
From: 4th of July TH
Approx. 8.6 mi, 3150 ft
Partner: Dominic

After Saturday’s IPW excursion we were all tired and Sunday’s tentative plans to climb Taylor and Powell in RMNP didn’t seem too appealing – it would have been quite a substantial hike. Dwight decided to go home and take it easy for the remainder of the weekend. Dominic and I crashed soon after we got home, too tired to discuss any plans for the next day. I woke up at 3am on Sunday and started browsing through Roach’s IPW book (while I was still half asleep) looking for something short and sweet. Although there were some more nice snow climbs in the Brainard Lake area, there was no way I was going to hike that road two days in a row. I knew the 4th of July TH was accessible and tried to find something that could be climbed from there. Jasper Peak looked like a cool option. Roach describes three snow climbs on its southeast face. This is nice since you can decide what looks best when you get there.

The 4th of July TH was already jammin’ when we arrived around 5. Most of the crowd appeared to be skiers. We followed the well trampled Arapaho Pass Trail for about 1.3 miles until we came to the turn for the Diamond Lake Trail. This trail heads off to the south and descends about 200 ft to the North Fork Middle Boulder Creek. It quickly became more snow covered and less traveled. We crossed the creek 50 feet from a nice wooden bridge. There were still tracks but they no longer followed the actual trail to Diamond Lake (which was undetectable anyway), and instead continued more or less straight south. Since the trail was useless, we chose to follow them. We climbed rather steeply to gain the bench northwest of Diamond Lake and then hiked west over gentle terrain toward Upper Diamond Lake.

Upon nearing the Lake, Jasper Peak FINALLY came into view. We could easily pick out Roach’s three snow climbs on its southeast face: Gaiteraid, Snow Leopard, and Snow Lion. Gaiteraid is the furthest south and is a short, straightforward, moderate snow climb ending on Jasper’s south ridge. Snow Leopard is a steep snow climb that also tops out on the south ridge, but closer to the summit. It had a considerable cornice and Roach mentions that this may be a better later season climb when the cornice has been blunted. Snow Lion is a “classic” moderate snow climb that goes straight toward the summit and tops out just steps away from it. Roach claims that it is the best mountaineering route on Jasper but says that “like an elusive wild animal, this route is rarely available”. Apparently it melts out fairly early. We were in luck today though – it looked to be in prime condition!

The narrow Upper Diamond Lake Basin is an awesome place! The lake itself was still frozen over and had a great blue coloring. The area seems so secluded and peaceful. It is one of my new favorite IPW places. Although there was plenty of evidence that people had been up there recently, we had it to ourselves this morning.

We stopped around 12,400 ft to gear up for the 600 ft snow climb. It started out pretty easy, but got much steeper as we continued to climb. We angled left near the top to climb some slightly steeper snow (45+). Despite the late hour (around 9) the snow was still in pretty good shape thanks to the partially overcast skies. We topped out very close to the summit and settled in for a nice break. We could see two people climbing Skywalker on South Arapaho and several people on the summit of Neva.

There were many descent options: going back the same way we came, Jasper’s east ridge, Jasper’s northeast ridge, and Jasper’s northeast slopes. We chose the northeast ridge because it looked slightly more interesting than the other options. It was still early and time wasn’t an issue. The ridge was fun, very easy 3rd class and was littered with millions of shiny little rocks that begged for my attention. Dominic waited patiently as a poked around. We traversed the ridge for half of a mile before descending east to an unnamed lake.

As we were descending the basin toward the lake I looked over and saw the mangled remains of a small airplane. It was very hard to see until we were right next to it. It was a scary looking mess, but not as scattered as the plane in Airplane Gulley on Navajo Peak. Dominic later googled the registration number and found a report about the accident. The pilot was a 29 year old commercial flight instructor flying from Denver to Steamboat Springs. He crashed on December 14, 1971 in bad weather. Details here:

We continued on past the lake, postholing badly in a few places – nothing continuous enough to force us to put on snowshoes though. We headed east until we came to our tracks from earlier and followed them back to the creek. It was a short, uneventful walk back to the TH and the entire hike took 7.5 hours. It was short and sweet as we had hoped and we were home by 2pm, quite a rarity! We carried snowshoes all day but never used them. If it were warmer, they would probably be useful.

pictures & map:
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Postby deano » Thu Jun 07, 2007 9:52 am

great report, thanks :)
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Postby roozers42 » Sat Jun 09, 2007 6:32 pm

Very nice! Let me know if you want to do anything in IPW in the future...such a great area!
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Postby ScottN » Sat Jun 09, 2007 7:35 pm

Was up on Mt Neva on that Sunday. Fantastic day.

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