Peak(s):  Snowmass Mountain  -  14,092 feet
Date Posted:  07/15/2009
Date Climbed:   07/12/2009
Author:  Ascent88

 Snowmass S-Ridge  

Snowmass Mountain
14092 ft
S-Ridge from Crystal
~13 miles RT

My journey to finish off the Elk range is well underway, and with this ascent I am one peak closer. Another thing this trip succeeded in doing was cementing the fact that the Elks are my favorite part of Colorado.

I left Denver around 1000 and arrived at the town of Crystal TH around 1530. A few things to keep in mind are the fact that the road in to Crystal is pretty rough and takes a long time to travel(1 hr). I made it up just fine in my stock Jeep Liberty. I heard the Lead King Basin Road was much easier, but slightly longer. Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that when you leave from Crystal, you have a pretty good hike along the road till you even get to the Lead King Basin TH.

Once I got to the TH at the end of County Road 315(Lead King Basin Road) The beautiful hike began. The hike into and through LKB is amazing. With views of the Bells through Fravert Basin, I was blown away.

The Bells through Fravert Basin

The weaher was less that ideal however and I got rained on continually all the way up to Little Gem Lake. Walking through the dense foliage was more akin to walking through a tropical jungle than an alpine forest.

Waterfalls up Lead King Basin

Geneva Lake

Just past Geneva Lake there is the infamous turn off... It could be tricky in the dark. The GPS coordinates for this turn off are as follows: N39deg05'56.9", W107deg04'46", bear left at these coordinates.

Turn left here

I arrived at my intended camp around 1930, and found a beautiful site for the night, and a good launching point for the ascent the following morning. The mosquitos here were absolutely thick though and of course I forgot to bring my bugspray. I got eaten ALIVE! FYI bring bug spray to this area!

The entry to the S-Ridge route is the right hand gully in this picture... On the far ridge

Looking up the gully

Looking down the gully

I woke up early the next morning (0430) and left camp to begin the climb around 0500. I took the right hand gully and made the ridge crest aroung 0615. The rest of the route is awesome! Great class 3 scrambling with the option in several spots to make it class 4 if you go to the right or the left of the crest. The following pictures show some of the ridge.

The S-Ridge from Geneva Lake

The obvious flake is a good aiming point

I eventually made it to the summit at around 0730. Storm clouds however were still present from the evening rains, so I decided not to dally on the summit. I headed down the west face using a perfect snow gully for plunge stepping all the way down. Had to cut to the right to avoid some cliffs, but overall the descent right now with the snow is perfect. Bring an axe however if you plan on using the snow for the descent... I used mine twice for self arresting. Got back to camp and made my way back down to crystal for a great round trip... This route is AMAZING and I highly recommend this for anyone who likes some good scrambling and wants to do snowmass.

Crystal Mine

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions
Kevin Baker

07/16/2009 03:54
Nice job on the S Ridge. It sure is a cool route. Did you happen to get a good look over to the south face of Hagerman? I was just wondering if there is any snow left on the south facing slopes up high.


Beautiful ridge
07/16/2009 12:21
Nasty gully... we did it sans snow and encountered a lot of rock fall on the way up and down - your way looks a lot better! This is another one of those awesome high altitude ridges, that offers - like you said - some really spectacular class 3/4 work on solid rock. Nice report - good luck on the rest of the Elks!


good work
07/16/2009 12:45
And great write up too!


the gully...
07/16/2009 16:09
is nasty, and there is a point about 1/3rd of the way up that you can bear right and climb to the rim of it (I thought it more like a box canyon). At that point stying along the high ground was pretty easy with class2/3 scrambling and very little loose stuff. Fun way to climb the ”mass”...


I agree with the ice axe!
07/17/2009 18:58
We did the west slope on the 4th, and definietly needed the ice axes (but we forgot ). Self arresting with trekking poles doesn‘t work as well (in fact, broke a couple in half!). That route looks awesome, maybe will have to climb it next time...


07/17/2009 03:38
Is it really that shade of green or did you manipulate with PS (Photo Shop)? Very nice! Fantastic shot of C Mine!




Great report
07/17/2009 21:23
on a highly underrated route. Love the S ridge!

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