Mt. Yale  
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2016-03-13  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: We started at 5am with a steady wind. No snowshoes were required throughout the day, microspikes were definitely helpful above treeline. Above treeline the trail ends due to blowing snow. The best thing you can do is know where the trail goes up to meet the ridge, pick a line and go straight for it. Hunting for the trail was difficult on the way up, crossing some sketchy sections of snice, and powder. Once atop the ridge conditions are superb, the ridge is a fun easy jog to the summit. On the way out, the sun really warmed things up, and the trail became much more visible. Following the summer trail out will put you about a half mile away from the trail back to Denny Creek. If you end up following the trail, prepare to do some route finding back to the north to hook back up with the trail. Some good glissading does exist on the slope, but most sections are hard and fast. On the way out, it was very much spring soft snow, and the trail through treeline needs to be stayed on. Saw multiple people postholing to their hips. Hard to say what conditions will be like in the coming days due to forecasted snow and high winds. 
ltngj  2016-03-14   5             
2016-03-04  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: Surprisingly, the first 0.2 mile of the trail is really icy. I was able to walk on the edges of the trail to avoid disaster since I don't have micro spikes. Further up the trail the less icy the trail became and after the first quarter mile, the trail became extremely well snow packed with good traction to the Brown's Cabin Junction. No snowshoes required. After the Brown's Cabin Junction the Mt. Yale trail, even with less traffic, is still well packed until out of treeline. The last quarter mile to treeline I postholed a few times but a good eye for hidden trenches can avoid any serious wallowing. I still didn't use snowshoes, but might recommend them for anyone worried about postholing. Above treeline, it is an easy romp with variable snow. Bullet hard snow to soft 2-3 inch soft wind slabs (nothing to worry about in terms of avalanches). The last snow covered slope to the saddle is very hard packed so traction is recommended. Without traction, I was fine using an axe. A well snowpacked trail led me up the final ridge. Again, no traction required; maybe recommended. Bottom Line: Snowshoes are NOT needed. I would still maybe recommend carrying them due to softening afternoon snow and micro spikes might be warranted. Crampons would be overkill. I've attached a GPX link with the current trench which varies a little from the summer trail. 
Furthermore  2016-03-04   0             
2016-02-20  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: Going up, the trail was nicely packed, a couple inches of newer snow. Need Snowshoes near 11,200 until 12,200... if familiar with the trail... the rocky treeless narrow slope... a couple hundred yards before that is when we put on snowshoes. We did not follow the standard trail once we hit that slope.) Above 12,200, a mix of windblown rock and bands of snow, some hard some soft. We basically went straight up, crossed the trail occasionally on the far left. Coming down, at about 12,200 we put snowshoes back on and it was like mashed potatoes until we got into the thicker trees, and we wore the shoes almost the entire way out. It was warm and sunny today. 
JQDivide  2016-02-20   3             
2016-02-13  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: Climbed Mt. Yale yesterday with great conditions overall despite some wind. Nicely packed and identifiable trail up to the stream crossing just above 11,200‘ at which point we reached a fork in the trail. We took the more direct trail to the East (summer trail continues northward and traverses back later on) which ended soon after a steep section; however, we were able to gain access to a nice but steep ridge mostly free of snow that lead to treeline (try not to venture too far south here where there is evidence of a seemingly recent small avalanche). We were greeted with a mixture of bare grass/dirt and a firm wind-blown snow crust from treeline all the way to the summit. We picked up bits and pieces of the summer trail but it proved hard to keep track of. We bare booted up to 11,200 before dawning the MSR lightning ascents which we then removed at treeline. The last steep push to the summit requires traction and the lightning ascents handled it very well. Great climb. 
jknappe17  2016-02-14   2   1          
2016-01-23  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: Heavily traveled hard packed trench all the way from the trailhead to the fork in the trail where you must veer right to head to Yale (marked by a sign). Almost all the traffic went left there. Only two sets of footprints were visible in the snow on the Yale route. Getting to the stream crossing near 11,200‘ was simple enough, but from that point on it is almost impossible to find the trail. Snow is deep and powdery beginning at the stream crossing. Snowshoes are absolutely essential. Instead of veering to the right after crossing the stream, our group went left, so that‘s where the tracks now lead. But that will take you way off the trail, through very steep terrain that is difficult in snowshoes. Although we all made it to the summit, we blazed our own path beginning at the stream crossing. During our descent, we picked up the trail a few times, but we eventually lost it for good, so we followed our own tracks back to the stream crossing. In other words, navigation is extremely difficult right now because of the snow (and that is before the storm predicted for January 24-25). Overall, this was a very difficult climb. I was with a group of several experienced hikers/climbers, and it took us more than nine hours round trip. It was an extremely arduous day, and I think all of us seriously considered turning back more than once. The main reason I didn‘t turn back was that the weather was so nice, so I knew I didn‘t need to worry about getting stuck in a storm. My advice: Do not attempt this climb unless you are prepared for a very long and exhausting (mentally and physically) day, and you have the gear to do it right. You will not make it without snowshoes and microspikes. Having said that, it sure was beautiful up there. 
AcornMan  2016-01-24   0             
2016-01-23  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: From Denny Creek TH to first creek crossing is very obvious and trenched out. Just about the same until the second creek crossing, but soon after there is a fork. I took to the left and made it to treeline shortly after (it looked like the right path ended very quickly anyway). No summit for me yesterday due to being slow and out of shape (called it around 12 and felt great shame), but made it almost to top of first big shoulder. The rest of the trail seemed pretty obvious and wind-scoured. Hopefully the light snow last night left the nice big trench through the trees easy to follow. Go get it! 
swampthing  2016-01-24   1   1          
2016-01-12  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: There is a well-compacted trench up to 11,900 feet. From there, it is mostly firm, wind-blown snow until the final 800 feet or so. Some groveling is necessary to reach the summit. I brought snowshoes and crampons but used neither. 
crazydiamond513  2016-01-12   0             
2016-01-04  Route: East Ridge
Info: The initial south facing hillside with switchbacks had very little snow and was well traversed. A mile or so in only two snowshoe tracks made up the trail. These stopped at 2.5 miles or so prior to the ascent up the last hill to the ridge. We took a more windswept route to the ridge that we thought would minimize postholing since we opted to leave snowshoes in the car. We still did a lot of that until we got to the low point of the ridge (picture of east ridge was taken at 12,100 or so). From then on, the route to the summit was windswept and consisted of walking over/climbing talus and consolidated snow. On the way back, since postholing was inevitable, we took a more direct route that bypassed the slight ridge climb to 12,100‘. Snowshoes would have saved us hours and is recommended. There was a good amount of tracks on the summit. From there the standard/southwest slopes route looked more traversed. The road was plowed past the avalanche gulch trailhead. 
kentmw  2016-01-05   3             
2016-01-03  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: Road to the trailhead was open and relatively clear. We used microspikes until we reached tree line, at which point we came to a fork in the path. We took the path to the left, climbing straight up and over the ridge. At this point, we changed to our snowshoes, which made the ridge and the final push to the saddle much more doable. We did meet people climbing with simply microspikes and ice axes the entire way, but it was slower work requiring post-holing. The final summit push from the saddle we did with microspikes only. We were able to glissade down from the saddle to the ridge, but it was icy and rocky, requiring a lot of attention. There was definitely not enough snow for the few backcountry skiers we met. Coming off the summit around 1pm, it was definitely starting to get slushy for the path down. 
backpackeramericano  2016-01-07   0             
2016-01-03  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: There is a nice hard packed trench all the way to the upper slopes. Floatation helpful, but skis weren‘t very helpful on the descent. Snowshoes the way to go right now. 
michaeldavidson  2016-01-04   0             
2015-12-09  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: Similar conditions to previous report. Packed down trail until about treeline. Caution - there are 2 different trails to take, one is not the correct route (we took this one), but it is easy to make this error as it seems to effortlessly continue on the packed trail. At one point, there is a switchback with footprints to the right, I‘d advise taking that, as it will take you closer to the actual route. Following the wrong trail, we ended up pretty southwest, possibly close to the "old trail" that is now closed. Luckily there wasn‘t too much snow, and we just climbed up some rocks and scree and spotted the real trail very easily. The trail is super easy to follow for the remainder of the route, as it is literally exposed dirt for about 50% of it. This will most likely not last very long, as it looks like a storm might be rolling in. Oh yeah, and the conditions on the summit consisted of 50 mph winds. Overall, a typical winter excursion on Mt. Yale! 
LizWeiss  2015-12-10   2             
2015-12-05  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: The road was plowed all the way to the Denny Creek TH for the Southwest Slopes route. The trail was packed till tree-line. Immediately after tree-line, there was a snow field that my friend put his snow shoes on while I did not. I post holed for a distance and then decided to put on my shoes. There are portions of the trail that did not necessitate snowshoes however we kept them on because it was intermittent. The ridge had many uncovered rocks and also one snow field about 2-2.5 ft. deep for 100-200 yards. Near the summit, we dropped off our shoes and used our micro-spikes. All in all, I‘m glad we brought snow shoes. It can be done without them but it would be difficult. Our tracks at the lower elevations will likely still exist, however the ridge was incredibly windy and the snow had filled them before we descended. It appeared to have snowed approx 1-3 inches but it‘s hard to tell what was just moved around from the wind. 
Caleb Braun  2015-12-06   5             
2015-12-04  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: Still no trouble getting to the TH. Road is pretty well plowed to there. Carried snowshoes to timberline, but never needed them as there is a nice reasonably well packed trench the whole way. Above treeline, trail goes up and right to gain the ridge, but is very difficult to see. Follow our tracks and you‘ll end up close to it. From there, a bit spotty to follow the rest of the way to the top, but if you really look for it, you‘ll find it or get back on it reasonably quickly. Wore spikes the whole way back down the generally hard packed snow on the trail. 
bmcqueen  2015-12-05   0             
2015-11-28  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: Road had very little snow when we left. Any vehicle can get through. The trail up to the tree line was nicely packed (by us (: ), no traction needed. Out of the tree line was rough going with postholing in knee deep at time. Where there was less snow, there were loose rocks under neat. We weren‘t familiar with the summer trail and since we couldn‘t see it we decided to head straight up. It wasn‘t a wise choice. You should try to follow the general direction of the summer trail. Microspikes were more than sufficient, no crampons needed. 
14erNewbie  2015-12-02   0             
2015-11-09  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: Yale on Monday the 9th - I probably should just repeat the previous reports. I only went to 12k (typing this in the airport - had to get back down to Denver). Zero difficulty ascending without traction (and summer boots). I slipped a few times on the way down - poles help a little. Never used my axe. Never dressed heavier than she‘ll pants and fleece top over base layer. Boot pack trail is obvious to tree line. As you exit the trees the boot track is no longer on the Yale summit trail, so do what you like at that point! 
zinj  2015-11-09   6             
2015-11-08  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: Not much to add to the previous post. Trail is 96% boot packed snow, with the other 4% dirt/mud. Need at least 8-12 inches of snow before it will be skiable. I went up and down without traction. Had it with me but didn‘t feel the need for it. Car to summit took 3hr36min, and car to car was 5hr32min. Trail is good now, but if it snows this week that will all change. 
dogballs  2015-11-08   6             
2015-11-08  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: Trail mostly dry below tree line. Some sections with packed snow. At tree line, multiple foot paths, one of which roughly follows the real trail. Minor post holing while crossing the basin to reach the gain to the ridge. Packed trail most of the way up the gain to the ridge. The first section is the toughest, following deep post hole tracks. When you get to the switchbacks on this slope it‘s smooth sailing to the summit. I wouldn‘t recommend snowshoes. Gaitors and microspikes are handy, but you can struggle to the top without them I‘m sure. I can post pictures when I get home. I‘m updating from the summit now. Snow is shallow enough along this route that there is no avy danger. Go get it! 
chicagostylehotdog  2015-11-08   0             
2015-11-07  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: Just wanted to clarify one thing - I read on the forum that cottonwood pass is closed. It is closed just beyond the Denny Creek trailhead parking lot if you are coming from Buena Vista. 
whitneyc0319  2015-11-09   0             
2015-10-31  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: Trail is dry for the most part under tree line. Above is mostly snow covered, and slower going. Above tree line, we had a difficult time finding the trail, so we opted to head straight up the gully. Post holed a good amount, snowshoes might not be a bad idea. Trail was a bit muddy on way down, below tree line. Started at 7:10 AM, summited at 10:00 AM, and were off the mountain by 12:45. Was a great day! 
Savo772  2015-11-01   0   1          
2015-10-16  Route: Southwest Slopes
Info: The trail was nice and dry the entire way to the summit. The few slightly muddy spots were near the streams, but that‘s to be expected. The aspen were bare, which was unfortunate, but it‘s also pretty late in the season. As the valley was heating up under the sun, it caused a fairly strong breeze/updraft along the ridge which was pretty chilly. Started at 6:15am and summitted by 9:30am. 
NickJohnson  2015-10-16   0             

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