Peak(s):  Snowmass Mountain  -  14,092 feet
Date Posted:  09/29/2018
Date Climbed:   09/27/2018
Author:  bwleachuk
 Snowmass - West Slope   

For calibration purposes, this was my 44th fourteener. I have climbed multiple Class 3/4 routes, including Little Bear's hourglass and the Crestone Traverse. I found the trail report for this Snowmass route to be fairly misleading. It understates the difficulty of this route.

First, the access road is pretty gnarly and should be navigated with extreme care with anything other than a JEEP or special, high clearance vehicle with proper tires. I drove my Acura MDX up there and popped a tire deep in the heart of the national forest, but shy of the trailhead. AAA can't help you here, and if all you have is a "donut" tire replacement, you're asking to be stranded int the wilderness for 48 hours. Plan accordingly.


Second, the route is not 9 miles RT. It's more like 13.5 miles. We took a full 16 hours to complete the hike, going up the Class 4 variation route. We started at 5am and didn't get back to our car until 9:15pm. We should have started sooner.

Third, the Class 4 section is fantastic to climb and to rappel down. But you need ropes, and you need to know how to use them. It's too dangerous to free climb, in my view, and there is substantial exposure.




Fourth, there is a TON of Class 3 climbing and descending on large, tippy rocks. It requires constant concentration. Budget more time than you think to ascend and descend safely. We took 1.5 hours to descend the first 250 feet from the summit.



The summit itself is unique - a dramatic slab of upslanting rock. Well worth the hike!


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Tire sacrifice required to reach Lead King Basin
10/01/2018 11:44
I've never climbed Snowmass, but I have sacrificed two tires in the course of reaching Lead King Basin. One on a Bronco II (most capable offroader I ever owned). I took a chunk out of a sidewall going up through Crystal. I changed that tire in the rain on a much steeper slope than is advisable for jacking up a vehicle, but I wasn't going anywhere until that tire got changed.

The other tire on a Jeep Liberty actually didn't go flat until I was back in civilization, but, when I took it in for repair, it turned out that the carcass of the tire was torn under the tread, not repairable. I'm sure the damage occurred on the "road" to Lead King Basin. I took the other way in (left fork just above Marble), as I didn't really think the Liberty was capable of going in through Crystal.


True Summit
10/10/2018 13:53
Thanks for all the pics and advice. Good to learn from others if possible. I climbed Snowmass in the spring via the east slopes. I can't imagine doing that route without the snow much talus! Glad to see you reached the true summit on top of that boulder. It was super windy when I was up there and I couldn't pull together the nerve to surmount that last 6 feet, lol.

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