Snowmass Mountain

 East Slopes
Difficulty Class 3 
Risk FactorsExposure: High
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: High  
Start8,400 feet
Summit14,105 feet
Total Gain5,800 feet
RT Length22.00 miles
Last UpdatedJul 2023
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A reservation is now required to camp at Snowmass Lake and permits are very limited in summer. This means if you cannot reserve a camp spot, you may have to either day hike Snowmass (long day) or find a dispersed camp outside of the Snowmass Lake Permit Zone, which would be approx. 2 miles below the lake, near the log jam. Check for permits at and select the permit zone that includes Snowmass Lake.
From Glenwood Springs, drive approx. 27 miles south on CO 82 to the small town of Snowmass. Turn right on the Snowmass Creek road and begin measuring mileage. Drive 1.7 miles and turn left to continue on Snowmass Creek road. The road turns to dirt at 7 miles. At 10.7 miles, turn left and cross a bridge over Snowmass Creek. At 10.9 miles, turn right at another junction and continue to the trailhead at the end of the road (11.3 miles).


From the trailhead, hike south up the Snowmass Creek trail - 1. In the first mile, pass through one or more gates ( 2) and continue 1.5 miles to reach a junction for the West Snowmass trail. Stay left on the Maroon-Snowmass trail. Near 4 miles, there's a beautiful view of Snowmass Mountain - 3. After 6+ miles and above 10,000', you'll reach the infamous log jam at the north end of one of the ponds - 4. When the area is thawed out and the water is not raging, the log jam provides a relatively easy way to reach the remaining trail on the other side of the creek. Carefully cross the log jam - 5. On the west side of the ponds, follow the serpentine trail south before it turns right and switchbacks up a slope - 6. Reenter the forest and hike 1 mile to reach another trail junction - 7 and 8. Continue straight to reach the stream outlet at the east end of Snowmass Lake after 8 miles - 9. Camp sites are on both sides of the stream outlet.

To begin your ascent, cross to the south side of the stream ( 10) and pass through a short section of forest to reach a clearing near the lake's shore where you can preview the route ahead - 11 and 12. Near the shore, locate the trail and follow it southwest - 13. Weave through the willows and cross a few open areas to reach a boulder field at the west end of the lake - 14 and 15. Follow cairns through the boulder field and ascend toward the gully/stream that drains from the snowmass. Near 11,600', avoid climbing the steep, loose pitch above by crossing the stream and continuing up through willows and ledges - 16 and 17. Reach easier terrain near 12,000' and continue to the snowmass - 18 and 19. The remainder of this route is easiest with firm, stable snow and many people choose to climb it before too much snow melts out of the snowmass.

Once on the snowmass , locate the summit and a large bump on the southeast ridge - 20. The bump provides the easiest way to gain the ridge but if you're looking for a more direct line to the summit, check out the variation (below). Hike approximately 1/2 mile toward the summit to reach another flat area just above 13,000' - 21. Continue west toward the bump on the ridge - 22. Aim for the break in terrain on the left side of some cliffs and climb moderate snow or large rocks - 23 and 24. Continue to the ridge crest , at 13,700' - 25. The summit is 1/3 mile away and there's plenty of Class 3 scrambling along the ridge. Cross to the west side, turn right and continue just below the ridge crest - 26 and 27. About half way between the bump and the summit, you may find it easiest to scramble on the ridge crest - 28. Return to just below the ridge crest and continue toward a prominent point on the ridge that has a rib of rock descending to the left - 29. Locate a break in the rib and scramble over to see the remaining route - 30. Continue below large rocks and back toward the ridge to reach the final pitch - 31 and 32. Be careful of loose rock here. If you're comfortable with more-difficult scrambling, you might find more-stable rock to the right. Climb the final pitch and enjoy this beautiful summit - 33 and 34.

More-Direct Variation (Steep Snow):
If it has snow, you can gain the ridge at a notch, left of the rock face near the summit - 35. Instead of ascending to the bump on the left end of the ridge, continue directly toward the left side of the summit area and locate the notch, left of some cliffs. It may have a small cornice. Pick your line and climb steepening snow toward the notch - 36 and 37. Reach the notch ( 38), pass to the south side of the ridge and turn right to continue along the standard route - 39 and 40.


This route is best done with snow in the snowmass but can certainly be done once the snow is gone. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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Caution: The information contained in this route description may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this route description provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the route description author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

Please respect private property: supports the rights of private landowners to determine how and by whom their land will be used. In Colorado, it is your responsibility to determine if land is private and to obtain the appropriate permission before entering the property.
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