Peak(s):  Sniktau, Mt  -  13,234 feet
Date Posted:  04/27/2009
Date Climbed:   04/25/2009
Author:  dubsho3000

 Sniktau Ski - Loveland Pass   

Adam (ajkagy), Kristi and I (dubsho3000) decided to take advantage of the high access to Mt. Sniktau from Loveland Pass for our respective first descents of the spring season. We left a car parked at Herman's Gulch on I-70 and one up at Loveland Pass. Loveland Pass is roughly 12,000', Sniktau is 13,234' and Herman's Gulch is at 10,400'. So we would only have to climb 1,234' to ski just under 3000'. Sounded like a good idea to me. It really helped to have a GPS with the highways and exits already downloaded as we used this to find Herman's Gulch at the end of the day.

Snow conditions: We noted that the temperature on Loveland Pass was below freezing for much of the night prior to our trip so we felt pretty good about the snow above treeline. Below treeline had not frozen which worried us, but our route was through trees and was less likely to slide.

From Loveland Pass we strapped our skis to our backpacks and followed the trail on the east side of the pass (the side with parking spots). We followed the easy and obvious trail to PT 12,915. From here we could see our route to the left (NNE) up to PT 13,152 (which we thought was Sniktau for a while).

The snow was pretty easy to bootpack due to being windblown. We didn't bring crampons and would not have used them if we had.

Kristi in front of PT 13,152.

Once up to PT 13,152 we followed the ridge to Mt Sniktau (again, NNE)

At the summit we were rewarded with a beautiful view of the Tuning Fork on Torreys

And a view of clouds engulfing I-70 and the plains.

On the summit - Kristi, Adam and Matt

The bootpacking to this point was not difficult or steep and we only crossed a few rocky sections.

For the descent we skied almost directly east off the summit into a nice bowl that led generally northeast. This was great skiing with some windblown snow up top that transitioned through powder and softer creamier snow near the bottom of the bowl.

Kristi makes some turns:

Matt does the same:

At the very bottom the slope leveled out and there was a hard suncrust. We used this (consciously or not) to gain speed and gain a small hill on skier's left at the bottom of the bowl. The following picture was taken from this hill and shows our initial traverse off the summit (out of view) in red:

From here (at about 11,700') we started our traverse which was to skier's left (NE to NNE). This led to a long and painful descent through 1300' feet of rotten snow through steep trees. We used Adam's GPS to make sure we were generally headed toward our car at Herman's Gulch (generally keeping to our left as we headed down) as we navigated through some thick forest. We individually gave up trying to ski through the snow and just side stepped down a good portion of the trees. We discussed how we were glad we weren't on an open slope since the snow hadn't frozen for several days at this altitude. The snow just couldn't support anything at this point. We tried to keep good spirits but all agreed that this portion of our day flat out SUCKED.

Eventually we could start to see and hear I-70. Once we got out of the steep portion of the trees we found a large bridge and a trail of some sort. There was much rejoicing and some crying. We put skins on and followed the trail for a bit but eventually just headed for the highway. Adam either had a scent for the right exit or used his GPS well - we found our spot with seemingly little effort (at least as far as route-finding goes).

Thanks to Adam for all the pictures - sorry we didn't get any of you skiing! Here's one of the photographer and the good skiing:

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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