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|Conditions Information||Posted By||Posted On|
|2016-11-13||Route: West Slope
Info: Attempted Snowmass via the West Slopes route on Sunday. Had a late start but still made it up to 13,000' before turning around due to time. Despite there being quite a bit of snow on the peaks to the south, Snowmass itself was relatively snow-free. The hike up past Geneva Lake to Little Gem Lake was mostly dry. There were a couple ~100-ft-long sections of snow in shaded areas, maybe 6 inches deep. On the arduous climb up the west face, there was quite a bit of ice right at the beginning of the first class 3 section below the main gully that the route ascends. After that, there were areas of snow on north-facing aspects to climber's right of the gully (see third photo below). These are easily avoided by sticking to the route description, which takes you up the center or left side of the gully (which are snow-free). With significant snow likely later this week, I expect these conditions to change drastically by Thursday or Friday.
|2016-09-10||Route: West Slope
Info: Caveat: I only descended this route after going up the S Ridge. This route is a teetering pile of misery that should never be done by anyone. Ever. After crossing the stream beyond Gem lake, fully 50% of the steps you take will be on awful, loose, shifting, sliding scree or larger rocks, with frequent danger to either yourself or people below you. If you are thinking about ascending this route, you should immediately reconsider and do anything, anything, else. If climbing Snowmass from the west, definitely choose the S Ridge. If you aren't sure if you are up for sustained, somewhat exposed Class 3, wait until you are, don't ascend this route. While not one of the 'formal' routes on 14ers.com (as of 9/13/16), the S Ridge is well detailed in the Trip Reports section. It has easy route-finding (stay on the ridge), a beautiful position, excellent Class 3 climbing (any class 4 is easily avoided), solid rock (large, deep fractures make for enormous handholds - but do make it appear loose). It's a top 5 class 3 ridge that should be on everyone's to-do list. The West Slopes route is a one-of-the-worst and should be avoided at all costs.
|2016-09-10||Route: S Ridge
Info: The S Ridge on Snowmass is a fantastic route on almost entirely solid rock. The position on the ridge is excellent, and if you skirt a couple of crux sections to climber's left, the climbing never has to exceed Class 3. I think this is the best route on Snowmass, and would strongly recommend it over the West Slopes.
|2016-09-10||Route: West Slope
Info: Approach trail and climbing route were dry and ideal for climbing with the exception of the grassy wet area that had ice on much of the rocks in the morning. Avoided the ice by climbing to the right of the grassy area. The ice had melted from this area later in the day and presented no problem on the descent.
|2016-09-09||Route: East Slope
Info: Snowmass, left Aurora at 3:00 am, drove and hiked up and came home. How can a mountain with trees, shrubs to climb through, some mud, flowers everywhere, be so try and so much only rock for the last 1900 feet. The class three gully by grass earlier in morning with a little water had ice on it, so I ended up going just to the left and around. Should have gone straight to class four gully. I ended up in the class three gully for a bit but then went straight up to avoid the lose small rock. To encounter lose big rocks. Sigh. Large rocks that have no business moving do. And of course the little rocks move easily along the scree. Check holds and footing carefully. The road up was rough as stated, stream crossings are low, no snow, very dry. I found I liked North Maroon gullies less trouble.
|2016-09-08||Route: East Slope
Info: My brother and I ascended the standard east slope route starting from Snowmass Lake, where we had camped. Started before dawn; made the summit by 10 AM. Wind was calm, but weather was cold. There was a significant amount of frost and a few icy patches over rocks. Watch your step crossing the gully after the initial scree field above Snowmass Lake: the smooth rocks in the upper gully had a fine layer of water running over them and are susceptible to icing over. As others have noted, there is almost no snowfield left. Definitely no snow in any place useful for assisting an ascent, so don't bother with crampons or ice axe until snowpack rebuilds this fall. (See photos.) The upper scree was quite loose; we were picking our way very carefully. The west side rock was significantly more solid feeling than the east side scree. Mostly by happenstance we ended up ascending a different notch to the right of the bump, rather than to the left as the posted route goes, and descending the "official" alternate much closer to the summit. (I had forgotten to print references photos of the final approach, which is why we ended up in different notches.) I don't recommend descending the alternate right now; the "trail" down is steep and is extremely slippery dry dirt and pebbles. I mostly chose larger rocks rather than descend the dirt trail(s). My brother's boots were grippier and he was able to stick more to the dirt. Incidentally, the rescue referenced in http://14ers.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=50603 was going on below us as we ascended. I will try to post more info over on that thread later.
|2016-09-05||Route: East Slope
Info: Despite all the recent rain, there is no snow that is an issue right now. I went up the 'direct alternative' and was glad I did. When I got to the top there was a literal hurricane up there from the west and the wind chill was so bad that no one lasted but a few minutes on top before heading down. Once getting back thru the notch and down out of the wind it was much better. Worst thing right now is the trail up is horribly muddy from all the rain, especially in the first few miles. And the willows by the lake are a major pain and even worse in the dark, coming down in the light was much easier.
|2016-08-29||Route: West Slope
Info: Followed the route as described on the way up (went left side of the green waterfall, up gullies), which is every bit as loose as described. On the way down, we stuck to the ribs (delightfully stable) all the way down to the waterfall, which we crossed a few feet from the drop and descended climber's right (a walkup instead of the left side's sloppy & wet scramble). In short: Use the walkup ramp on the right side of the green waterfall. Cross the waterfall at the top and immediately traverse to the rib just climber's left of the standard gully route. This is stable all the way to the top! You can also traverse to the upper rib just climber's left of the upper gully for another stable summit option. Keep in mind that this route has similar stats as Pyramid (8+ miles, 4500' gain) and is much more remote. Plan ahead and start early! Enjoy!
|2016-08-20||Route: East Slope
Info: Summer conditions as mentioned. Rain the previous night caused wet willows...and thus wet hikers. Bring waterproof stuff if you want to stay dry in the willows before ascending the peak. If you do get wet, just know you will dry off fast because the sun hits the east slopes early! One other note: the sign for Snowmass Lake in the route description pictures was different than the sign we found just before the lake (see picture). Go straight at the sign; do not turn left!
|2016-08-06||Route: East Slope
Info: As expected, Snowmass is in complete summer conditions- you don't even have to set foot in snow if you really didn't want to! A sign at the TH said there was a bear sighting 8/2 in the area. I found there were two options for hiking southwest around the lake, If you follow the trail near the shore of the lake, don't be surprised if you have to bushwack a little- pretty straight forward though, nothing terrible. We climbed the gully in rain, and it was not as challenging as I had expected/read it to be in the given conditions. Took the direct variation to the summit- I was happily surprised to find there was alot of dirt mixed in with the rocks (as opposed to just a bunch of loose rock) which made for a relatively easy climb up to the ridge. Backpacked in, but just used trail runners and rain gear to summit (no spikes, axe, etc.)
|2016-07-20||Route: West Slope
Info: The roads to the trailhead from Marble and through Crystal are both clear. There entire route to the summit is clear of snow and free of any unexpected obstacles. It's surprisingly busy out there right now with 4x4 people and campers at Geneva Lake. The wild flowers are going crazy and it's a good time to climb!
|2016-07-17||Route: East Slope
Info: The snowfield is almost gone. I was able to connect snow lines between the base of the bump on the ridge, 13600 or so, and down to around 12700. But it requires some traversing and invariably sinking in near the boulders. Some parts were steep enough I was glad to have the ice axe. But going forward I would leave axe and spikes home and just boulder hop it. Also, the gully above the lake is extremely troublesome, class 4 scree in places :-) Recommend ascending/descending the grass on the right side of the gully and crossing the creek as low as possible.
|2016-07-16||Route: East Slope
Info: Summer conditions. Above the lake and once above the scree slope, as you head up to the ridge, you can walk on snow at times or you can avoid it--your choice. So, no traction/ax really needed. On the way down, we did choose to use traction and ax to link together some snowfields to make the descent go faster, but even so the snow looks like it is melting out fast and wasn't ideal for long glissades (a 10a.m. descent, approx). If you do decide to walk on the snow beware of postholing to the hip next to the warmer rocks, especially later in the morning. No snow at all on the traverse along the ridge to the summit. On our way down to the trailhead, we saw two guys with skis/board headed up--seemed like a lot of work for some pretty crappy conditions and a very short run. Hope it went OK for them. Additional note: No campfires permitted and they were checking for bear canisters at Snowmass Lake (although, apparently, very little bear activity noted so far in the area). I will have a full trip report with pics up within a couple of days. Snowmass is an awesome mountain!
|2016-07-09||Route: West Slope
Info: Got to the trail head at 6:30 and conditions were great the whole way up, was on the summit around 10. Some snow was in the gulley but easy to avoid. I only passed two people on this route which was a nice change considering it was a Saturday summit. The West slope is a great route and highly recommend it, especially with all the flowers blooming and Geneva Lake. Lead King Basin road was dry, you definitely need a 4x4 with good ground clearance to make the trail head. An Outback or small SUV won't cut it. It looks like the East slope still has a lot of snow on the face, saw a group of three people who were roped up together who were going down as I reached the summit.
|2016-07-04||Route: East Slope
Info: 180 from yesterday's conditions report. This morning was perfect styrofoam up until about 7am. The notch variation went, but the snow is peeling away from the rock and that probably will no longer be possible within a few more days. The entire snowmass looks to be melting out quickly; a 2-3am start should help, but the remaining window for snowclimbing is narrowing in the next couple weeks. Gorgeous day. Be careful out there, enjoy the peak. Approach trail was muddy yesterday, only muddy in spots leaving today. Photos to come.
|2016-07-03||Route: East Slope
Info: Very wet and muddy up to the lake. It rained most of the weekend so the log jam and the willows were particularly interesting. The snow mass was soft, mostly packed down. We post holed a few times, but mostly packed and slushy. We took the standard route to gain the ridge. After gaining the ridge there are a couple snow fields to cross, small. A slushy glissade down.
|2016-06-25||Route: East Slope
Info: Snow mass looks like it's receding quickly. Left the lake at 3am, and the snow below about 12,500 was still soft, sunk a few inches on each step. Above 13,000ft the snow was pretty solid at 6am. Descended around 8:30am on pretty soft snow all the way down. Was able to gain the ridge at around 13,900 on a good snow finger, but it looks like its days are numbered as it melted away from the mountain. Numerous snow fields on the west side, we missed most of them by entering high, and we stayed on the ridge to the summit, which was dry and solid.
|2016-06-19||Route: West Slope
Info: Road was blocked to the TH, which delayed my start. Trail was clear until the campsites at Geneva Lake, then snow got more and more abundant. Made it as high as Little Gem Lake where it was completely covered with snow. Snow got punchy. Some was good and solid, other areas would posthole. Snow is melting fast and waterfalls are full. There is just a lot of it, so it might still take a bit before completely melted.
|2016-06-18||Route: West Slope
Info: The trail approach to the base of the West Slope route is clear almost up to Geneva Lake. Beyond there, the snowdrifts, some quite deep, begin in earnest. The minute the sun hits anything, it softens up. There is still plenty of snow in the main gully on the West Slope, but it was too soft even by 8:00am. It might require an even earlier climb, if at all. Some signs of recent slide activity so be very careful.
|2016-06-18||Route: East Slope
Info: Trail is clear of snow almost to Snowmass lake. There are a few patches of snow just before the lake but they are small and shrinking fast. After the lake there is still complete snow cover. The thaw freeze cycle is not very good anymore so I ran into some very soft patches of snow even before sunrise. Coditions in Snowmass bowl are fantastic though. Got some great turns coming down.