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Peak(s):  Snowmass Mountain  -  14,105 feet
Date Posted:  06/11/2014
Modified:  04/28/2024
Date Climbed:   06/10/2014
Author:  BillMiddlebrook
Additional Members:   cliz
 Snowmass: Extended Conditions Report   

There's a lot of snow up there right now. It starts 1.5 miles below the lake and is continuous from lake to summit.

On the way up:
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The summits of Snowmass and North Snowmass from the 4mi overlook

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Jammin

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Lots of snow above 10,400

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Frozen



We camped on a small dry spot near the outlet, caught a bunch of Rainbow and Cutthroat trout in the thawed lake outlet (yes, we brought fishing rods!) and started our climb at 1:40am Tuesday morning. We hadn't seen any bear sign near the lake but near 13,300' on the snowmass I encountered a set of tracks. They looked like bear tracks and I followed them for a bit so I could get a bunch of different photos. The following track appears to be a black bear and, at ~8" long, I'd say that's a safe bet. Crazy. Why was it up here?
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Why would a bear cross the upper Snowmass? These tracks were over 8" long


To gain the ridge, our goal was to climb to the notch, just left of the upper cliffs. It can be seen in the next two photos, above the rocks sticking out of the upper snow. The notch had a cornice but we figured we could get around it on the right, which turned out to be the case:
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Approaching the good (better) stuff

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Near 13,500', with a gorgeous sunrise

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Craig working hard

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Steeper terrain, leading to the notch (just left of center)

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Our goal was to climb to the right side of the cornice

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At the notch/ridge, just behind the small cornice

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Watching Craig from the notch

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Success

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From the notch to the lake


Craig was pretty much gassed and I wanted to head up to the summit for a ski, so we had to change the plan a bit. We were going to ski east off the summit but since Craig had gone as high as he could, I decided to attempt a ski off the south side of the summit and back to the notch, so we didn't descend separately.

So, I dropped my pack and crossed this short section to see if the remaining terrain was in from top:
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On the south side. Later, I was able to ski back to this spot (center)


Close enough! I went back to the notch to retrieve my gear, we turned on the radios and I climbed toward the top.
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A bit farther and I could see it was continuous to just below the summit


I stopped just below the summit on a spot where I was comfortable making the transition to skis, radioed Craig and started my descent at 7:30am. The snow was bullet-proof:
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A starting spot just below the summit made for a fairly direct line back to the notch (upper, center of photo)


I carefully skied the upper snow, weaved through a couple of rock sections and returned to find Craig enjoying the warm-up. We waited another 45 minutes in the notch for the snow to soften.

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Back at the notch and ready for the transition from rock-hard to corn snow


Craig dropping in from the notch and skiing the upper face:
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Craig taking the plunge from the notch

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A snow bonanza:
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Untouched corn and spectacular views

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Eeek, someone took my picture!!



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Back at the gully

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We cruised to the right to stay high above the lake

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Skiing around the lake

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And a 1/4 mile skin back to camp

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Snow


We caught about a dozen trout ranging from 10-13" - rainbows, cutthroat and a brookie:
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Rainbow

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Brookie

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37


Comments or Questions
AeroDan
User
Right on
6/12/2014 12:06am
Was actually planning on hitting up Snowmass myself this weekend! Nice to see what the area looks like. Wasn't sure how the log jam would be with the melting, but it doesn't look a problem at all.

Awesome ya got a bluebird day skiing in the Elks. Your TR has me stoked!


BillMiddlebrook
User
Snow
6/12/2014 12:30am
The biggest challenge we had was the snow on the hike down from the lake. It was firm in many places where other hikers had walked but we still punched through a lot. We didn't skin that section but sure wish we had brought gaiters.

During the lake-to-summit climb, we didn't punch through at all.


Tornadoman
User
Footprint
6/12/2014 1:44am
I am pretty sure that foot print was from ManBearPig! Great pictures of the Bells, etc, looks like an excellent day.


Steve Nicholls
User
The back side
6/12/2014 4:36am
Really liked pic #28. Not the usual view. Nice.


AeroDan
User
Thx
6/12/2014 1:01pm
Bill, noted. Given the wind and day & night temps, I'm betting I'll experience the same. Guess I'll bring the gaiters! Thx!


awon2zip
User
brookie
6/12/2014 6:38pm
Wow, not often do you see a brook trout that size, nice catch!


nyker
User
Great report and pics
6/13/2014 2:55am
Nice photos Bill. Can't wait to get there soon! Hopefully in a couple weeks and hope conditions are still ok for a nice snow climb. #8 is a great shot. A bear at 13+k. Wow, I don't think I've ever seen one above 12k. hmmm. In images #10-11 - how far right did you go to gain the ridge?


BillMiddlebrook
User
Gaining the ridge
6/13/2014 2:43pm
Nyker,
I've updated photos 6 and 11 to show the line we took to reach the notch. There was plenty of room to pass the cornice on the right, along the rocks, putting us in the notch and behind the cornice.

You may have to refresh this page to see the new images.


GregMiller
User
Snowshoes?
6/13/2014 9:02pm
If I'm forced to not ski, I'm guessing it would be wise to bring snowshoes for below treeline, any reason to bring them for above treeline on summit day? I figure it should be firm enough to not be an issue.
Also, if you don't mind sharing your secrets, what were you catching the trout on, I might be changing my dinner plans!


BillMiddlebrook
User
Snowshoes
6/13/2014 10:37pm
Depending on the temps, snowshoes could be helpful on the snow around the lake, leading to the first gully.

My partner brought a fly rod and I don't think it mattered what fly he used. I brought a micro-light spinning rod and was using a gold+silver Rough Rider lure. We started fishing at 3pm when we got to the lake and in 1/2 hour we pulled in 5 or 6 each. I was casting deeper and he was fishing the outlet.


longjohnsilver
Changing Conditions
6/14/2014 8:05pm
I wonder how much the Conditions will change in a matter of 1 or 2 weeks...

I will be making my attempt next Sunday / Monday / Tuesday

Now I'm considering needing gators as well


nyker
User
Thanks!
6/16/2014 2:07am
Thanks Bill...hope to be up there soon!


Skimo95
Catching trout and skiing elk peaks
4/28/2024 8:42pm
Thats the dream right there. Love it!



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