Peak(s):  Snowmass Mountain  -  14,092 feet
Date Posted:  05/16/2009
Modified:  05/17/2009
Date Climbed:   05/14/2002
Author:  Easy Rider
 East Bowl 02   


Bear Creek Image

McClure Pass is not part of the Gunnison basin, but apparently a small part of Gunnison County according to the warning ticket for olblue's cracked windshield and smashed tail lights.

I started from the TH at 4:00 pm with clear sky for 7 miles to the lake. There was some snow left in the woods past the switchbacks out of the valley.

A quiet walk through the Oxbow ponds Image

I was up here the weekend before and got blasted by a really windy storm that sent me packing right back to the entrance gate. I broke trail both ways, and never got a clear view of the mountain. Image

It was a total shutout on the 14ers so far (2002), and I found more rewards for my efforts on the local lines, like Purple and Augusta. I had several attempts to San Luis fail due to lack of coverage, but was optimistic that if any peak on the list was in this year, it would be Snowmass.

Snowmass from Maroon, 2001.


I skinned to the shore, and filled water under Hagarman just before dark. I spoke to a couple from Michigan, who said the snow had been great for snowshoes in the mornings until about 10:00. At 5:00 am the next morning I started with crampons right out of camp. I was on the first headwall about six. The sunhit was buffered through the high clouds about seven.
Imagesnowmass bowlImagesnowmass bowlImage

I held the fantastic view of the Maroon Peaks guarding 'Lost Remuda' Basin as I climbed. There are mixed reports about the steep col at the base of Maroon's west ridge, allowing passage from Fravert to Remuda, but every time I think about it, I begin piecing together sporty traverses over to Taylor Park from Snowmass Creek.


I took a line just proud of the saddle. The snow was getting softer on the perp slope. At the ridge, the talus slowed the way up the last portion of the dry south face over Geneva Lake, but soon encountered the vantage of Capitol, and of "The Plug".

The full room

The East Bowl



The summit reg was a mess, as is typical. The wind picked up. I brought the splitboard mostly for the approach, and was wishing for a more precise tool for the steep and faceted northerly summit slope. I rode the cornice down a couple feet, and committed to the slope after negotiating around a boulder. About the third turn, the board hesitated for a moment going to my next turn to heelside, becoming sluggish, and chattering over hidden rocks. I accelerated down the slope with a toeside backwards hop and rolled the windows down (Insert own profanity here). Usually this involuntary and futile gesture never works with my back to the fall line, but today it did. After stopping to collect myself, I paced a nice set of powder turns. From there, it was acres and acres of soft and velvety spring snow: more than three grand, and a mile and a half to the bottom.

summit snowfield last on the right

The final headwall was tiring, and whittled down to a narrow strip of dirty snow by the shore. I had left my skins at camp, so used straps to ski around to the south side, where I was still forced to walk most of the last stretch. It was getting close to ten o,clock, but the snow was still firm enough to hold my weight over to camp. The Michigan couple greeted me again while refilling water. I also met a Ft. Collins pair on tellies that looped around from West Snowmass Creek via Daily pass to Capitol Creek, Avalanche Lake, Siberian Pass, Geneva Lake, and Trail Rider: "alpine brutality" one related. I lounged around the lake for the afternoon, and spent the next night on my island of dry ground again.

The stars were thick. As dawn arrived, I heard someone crunch by in the morning, the skiers buzzed along after. They moved on the face. As they descended, I packed up, seeing everyone. Seven miles of smiles to the truck again. I was happy enough with this being the only 14er ridden so far that year.

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