Peak(s):  Hagerman Pk  -  13,841 feet
Date Posted:  09/18/2007
Date Climbed:   09/16/2007
Author:  PKR
 Hagerman Peak via the Southwest Ridge from Lake Geneva  

Hagerman Peak: 13,841ft.
Assent route: Southwest Ridge from Lake Geneva
Descent route: South Face / Ridge Saddle Couloir (Storm bailout point)
Miles: 4
Elevation gain: ~3,000ft
Date climbed: September 16, 2007

Before embarking on this climb I was unable to find photographic beta on this ridge so I thought I would shoot some photos along the way and post a report. Here goes...

As I was leaving Carbondale I caught a NOAA weather radio report letting me know I was headed into some less than desirable conditions, this helped me make my plans for my evening. My plan was to spend that evening taking photos for another project and look for reasonable bailout points off the ridge I was planning to climb that would bring me back into the Lake Geneva Basin.

I arrived at Lake Geneva about 4:00pm set up camp and walked up the valley towards Little Gem Lake. It quickly became apparent to me that there was only one bailout option I was willing to use if the weather turned bad while I was climbing.

Here is a photo of Hagerman's Southwest Ridge from the west.

Unfortunately I did not get all of the photos I needed for my project and due to rain was forced to return to camp early. I spent a pleasant night camped at the north end of the lake, soft quiet showers rolled through throughout the first half of the night making for great sleeping weather.

When I got up the next morning things seemed to have cleared a bit so I decided to make an attempt on the ridge. I was on the trail by 6:00am.

My approach took me from Lake Geneva up the Trail Rider Pass trait to the point where Gerry Roach (in his Colorado Thirteeners book) recommends you leave the trail.

Here is a photo showing my route up the drainage as I left the main trail.

I followed this drainage for about 0.4 miles, as I neared its upper end I climbed up to the right and on to a small rise. From here it was a short hike to the saddle (just below 12,400ft.) on Hagerman's Southwest Ridge 0.7 miles below the summit.

Here is a photo taken from the saddle showing route up.

Once on the ridge I could see what kind of weather was blowing in from the southwest. There were bands of clouds stacked up to the west but there as of yet there was nothing to threatening looking so I decided to continue on.

This is a view looking north from the saddle of my introduction to the ridge I was about to climb.

The first pitch of scrambling I did just above the saddle would prove to be the loosest rock I would encounter on the whole ridge and it helped set my head in the right space to move over the rock safely. Unlike its neighbor, the S Ridge, the rock here was decomposing and crumbly and it reminded me of other scrambles I have done in the Elks.

In the first 0.15 miles of my scrabble I gained almost 400ft. in elevation, beyond this point the ridge flattened out considerably for the next 0.2 miles and there was little elevation gain. At best this section was class +2 hiking with the odd class 3 move thrown in here and there to maneuver over the obstacles that dotted this section of the ridge. About two thirds of the way along this section I came to a notch which needed to be down climbed on nice solid rock, exiting this notch the rock was again a bit crumbly. This was the nature of the rock on the ridge, one minute you were on nice solid rock and the next it would be crumbling under your feet as you moved over it.

This photo was taken from the top of the first steep section at about 12,750ft.

This photo shows the nature of the rock I down climbed into the notch

This photo looking back was taken at the upper end of the flat section at about 12,900ft.

This photo was also taken at the upper end of the flat section looking up at the remainder of my scramble.

Here at lower part of this steeper final section the terrain moved in to solid class three scrambling. This proved to be the most enjoyable part of the whole climb. In the lower end of this section there were no less than five notches to be traversed, each offering its own challenges.

This photo was taken from about half way up the final section.

About three quarters of the way up the final section the ridge looses its definition, the rock becomes smaller, looser and a little less steep. The scrambling here became a bit tedious.

Here is a photo taken a few hundred feet below the summit.

Here is one final look back at the at Hagerman's Southwest Ridge from just below the summit. This photo was taken at about 13.800ft.

I summated about 9:30am

A summit photo looking towards Snowmass Mountain to the northeast.

There was a small bank of really nasty looking clouds blowing in from the southwest so I only had a few minutes to spend on the summit. Thus far I had been blessed with good weather but that was going to change rapidly. I took a few photos, had a quick snack and retreated from the summit just as the leading edge of this clouds bank rolled in. I wasn't five minutes off the summit when things started to let loose.

Lightening at 9:40am?

I was a bit suppressed; this little system gave no warning of lightning. I quickly found my way to a small alcove off the east side of the ridge and sat for twenty minutes watching the show. Thankfully most of the electrical activity was over the southern half of Fravert Basin near the Devils Rock Pile.

Here is a photo taken from my alcove as the storm set in.

The storm ended as quickly as it began and the morning sun returned. I left my protected alcove and regained the ridge so that I could see what else was in store for me weather wise. Off in the distant west was a much nastier looking brew, and it look to be moving in fast.

I had hoped to down climb the ridge but that was going to take too long so I opted for a quick descent of the south face.

I wish I had something nice to say about the route I took down but I don't. The rock was flaky loose unorganized carp. Several pieces I encountered were like little boogie boards poised for action, step on one and away you would go surfing down the mountainside. As I made my way carefully down the mountainside I found myself looking at the ridge longingly whishing for better conditions.

This is a look down my descent route.

I made it down to the basin at the foot of the south face in good time considering the conditions of the terrain I had to cover. As I made my way across the basin towards my assent route the sky began to darken again and I could hear the distant rumblings of thunder. I made the decision to head back up to the saddle and make use of the storm bailout route I had located the previous day. Taking this route would not only take more than a mile off my return trip but it would allow me to keep a closer eye on the weather blowing in.

Here is a look back at my descent route.

Once on the saddle I could see that the weather was deteriorating quickly. There was a thick black soup over the Ragged Mountains dumping precipitation and it was heading my way.

I made my way west down the couloir that ran from the saddle down into the Lake Geneva Basin. The top third of the couloir was filled with small fluid rock that moved with every step, I was happy to reach the talus below. From here I made my way down to the valley floor and back to my camp. It was about 11:45am when I arrived at my campsite.

Shortly after arriving back at my camp the sky really let loose, first it was ten minutes of pea sized hail then it was another fifteen minutes of rain. I was very happy to have made it back when I did. I waited out the storm in my tent while having lunch.

All in all I would have to say that I enjoyed myself on Hagerman's Southwest Ridge. The rock was not the best I have played on in this area but it was still totally doable and the views were spectacular. While I was up on the summit I took a few moments to have a look at the traverse between Hagerman and Snowmass Mountain, wow it looks exciting. I think I have come up with another reason to return to this part of the Elks.

That's my report on the ridge. If you are planning on a scramble here pay close attention to the loose rock and enjoy yourself, I did.


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

Nice TR!
09/18/2007 18:23
Great detail on this route... as Maverick was saying, we were there on the same day doing the traverse. That hail you speak of found us after we descended the main south face of Hagerman. We hit a weather window perfectly, whew!


Hagerman-Snowmass Ridge
11/30/2010 17:28
would be the LAST place in the UNIVERSE I'd like to be in a storm, and your very right about the loose rock in that area. Nice TR PKR.


dem weather Gods be crazy
02/05/2011 00:22
Awesome rep. We summitted Snowmass at 9:55AM and traversed over to Hagerman when all hell broke loose. There's some nice scrambling to be had there and your report captures the route well. Glad you made it off the mountain safely. We got lucky.

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