Peak(s):  Mt. Sopris 12,926 ft.
Date Posted:  06/01/2021
Modified:  06/02/2021
Date Climbed:   05/30/2021
Author:  Peaks4Days
 East Sopris via East Slope   

Did this hike over two days on Memorial Day weekend, camping at the midpoint "Thomas Lakes" on day one, then summitting on day 2. GPX at bottom of review.

The trailhead is off a dirt road just south of Basalt / Carbondale. The road isn't too bad. I did it in a 2WD car w/o any problems.

Good ol' Crown Vic had no problems on the dirt road. Sopris in the background.

From the trailhead it is about 4 miles to the Thomas Lakes. The trail starts going by going through some generic Aspen/Pine forest for ~1.5 miles, crosses a beautiful (at least in Spring) alpine meadow for 0.75 miles, then goes into up into a more rocky pine forest for the last 2.5 miles to the lakes.

Crossing the alpine meadow below the pine forest.

Finally the trail arrives at Thomas Lakes, two small lakes right next to each other at the bottom of Sopris' cirque. This is a good spot to camp if you want to break the hike up into two days.

Camp site at the edge of Upper Thomas Lake below Mt. Sopris. The route will follow the ridge on the left up to the summit. I was also able to glissade down the cirque since there was so much snow.

From here, my route differs a bit from the "standard" route due to the snow. Basically, I ended up bushwhacking through the remaining pine trees, then straight up the side of the lower ridge on the talus-slope visible in the left of the above-photo. Once on the ridge, I went straight up it, as opposed to winding around further since, if you look at the photo, the edge of the ridge was snow-free while the standard route was still covered in snow.

Going up the edge of the ridge on talus. The "standard" route is more circuitous and would have wrapped around through the trees to the right some more.

Once on the ridge, the rest of the hike is pretty straight-forward. There is a false summit, and then a saddle between the false summit and the true summit. Nothing harder than class 2 rock. The snow higher up the ridge was compact enough to walk on with only the occasional posthole. Some cornices had formed, so I made a point of staying away from the edges of the snow.

At the saddle of the false summit and the true, East summit, looking towards the East summit.
On the ridge ascending the East summit, looking back towards the false summit.

There are great views of the Roaring Fork Valley and West Elk Mountains on the East summit. Mt. Sopris actually has 2 summits, both being ~12,925 ft. or so. Supposedly it is another 1/2 mile to the West summit (1 mile round trip). From the East summit the trail to the West didn't look too hard, but I decided to call it a day on the East summit.

Pano from the East summit

Doing this in Spring, there was enough snow to glissade down the cirque back to the campsite. This was far quicker than descending the same route down. Obviously, if you do this, be mindful of snow conditions.

About 1/2 way down the cirque, looking back up.

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

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

06/15/2021 11:38
I did this same route back in 2016:

A great hike! Interesting to see the route with a lot more snow.

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