| All Things Shining: The Treasure of Indian Peaks
I think over again my small adventures
My fears, those small ones that seemed so big
For all the vital things I had to get and reach
And yet there is only one great thing
The only thing
To live to see the great day that dawns
And the light that fills the world. - Inuit
Jasper Peak at left, Point 12047 at center, and Mount Neva on the right.
All Things Shining: Mt. Jasper
Mount Jasper - 12,923 feet
Climb date: June 9, 2012
Trailhead name: Fourth of July TH, approx. elevation 10,120 feet
Ascent route: Northeast ridge, class 3
Descent route: North ridge, class 2+
Difficulty: Bushwacking, routefinding, and scrambling are required
Total distance: About 10 miles roundtrip
Net vertical gain: Around 3,000 feet
Jasper Peak offers a variety of fun routes in a sublime setting. Located near the far end of the Middle Boulder Creek drainage, Jasper stands proudly with Mount Neva and the Arapaho Peaks. If you're interested in learning more about Jasper, Roach's Indian Peaks guidebook and Kane's Summitpost page provide all the pertinent details. In addition, there are a handful of great reports for Jasper posted to 14ers.com.
Jasper Peak has not been easy for me. This was my third attempt at its summit in the past year. On the first attempt I turned back from high on the southeast ridge due to incoming weather. I made my second attempt last month, stopping at nearly the same location due to thick ice on downsloping rock. I've been thwarted twice on the southest ridge, so this time around I looked for something different. I found it on the northeast ridge. It's a fun and relaxed scramble, and one I would gladly revisit in the future like an old friend. This mountain has as much heart and soul as the big boys.
Dark clouds and thunder ended my first attempt at Jasper Peak in July, 2011. Look at all the great snow that lasted deep into the summer.
Captions on top of photos.
Fast forward a year. A meager snowpack can still bring us the pleasures of spring, if only for a shorter time. This beautiful waterfall is beside the road to the trailhead.
The weather forecast is bluebird, so I take some liberties with the time. I arrive at the trailhead just before 11am. It's packed with people, dogs, and vehicles. I park along the road a quarter mile away, shoulder my rucksack, and start up the trail. After the first mile passes, I won't see another person for the entire day.
Solitude can still be found in the IPW when you know where to look.
Through the trees.
The tree cover opens up. From left to right are Jasper Peak, Point 12047, and Mount Neva. My route up Jasper, the northeast ridge, extends down from the summit towards Point 12047.
A closer view of Jasper's northeast ridge.
Mt. Neva looks impressive from the trail.
Take the signed turn-off to Diamond Lake. The trail descends to Middle Boulder Creek. It's a bushwack from here.
Let's play, buttercup.
Cross the foot bridge over Middle Boulder Creek and leave the trail, generally heading southwest through the forest. Ignore faint game trails and continue on a straight trajectory toward the unseen weakness in the headwall that guards the upper bench.
By Gore and Lost Creek standards, this bushwack is easy.
The forest opens up and the route becomes clear. Continue straight ahead.
I reach the base of the headwall that guards the upper bench. There are two choices: the low-angle snow field on the left, or the steeper snow slope on the right.
I take a good long look at the steep option. I have the gear needed to climb it safely but it's past noon on a warm and sunny day. I consider the wet slide risk and turn my attention to the low-angle slope.
The kiddie slope is approached with a sense of disappointment.
The ascent goes easy. The view to the north opens up.
Snow turns to rock. Continue on.
Summer, have mercy on the flowers.
The sublime view of South Arapaho Peak from the upper bench.
Below Jasper Peak and the northeast ridge.
A closer view of the ridge. Gain the ridge with an ascending traverse on talus slopes toward the low-point seen on the right.
Tragedy struck the basin many years ago when an airplane crashed into the slope below the ridge.
The sky ripped open and steel turned to stone.
A sobering memorial.
I say a few words and move on toward the ridge. The talus slope is mostly stable.
Soon, I'm on the ridge.
The first tower. Choose your difficulty and go for it.
I'm usually conservative in route selection, especially when alone. I bypass the tower by scampering over easy third class terrain to the left.
The next tower appears. Once again, pick a line and go for it.
The view over the shoulder is tremendous. The rugged sharktooth ridgeline from Hopi (on left) to South Arapaho (on right) looks like an exciting project.
A closer view of Iroquois Peak, Mount George, Apache Peak, and Navajo Peak (from left to right).
Hopi and Iroquois rise above Wheeler Basin.
I turn my attention back to the fun terrain on Mount Jasper.
This slabby feature is encountered near the top of the ridge.
The true summit is hidden behind the highpoint seen in this photo.
I scamper to the right of the ridge on grassy ledges and steep broken rock.
The summit of Jasper Peak appears all too soon. The ridge run has been relaxed low-risk fun and I don't want it to end.
The view looking down at Snow Lion couloir and Upper Diamond Lake.
The view south toward Point 12660 and the rugged north face of Skyscraper Peak. The ski runs of Winter Park are seen in the distance.
The view toward the southwest. The Gore Range fills the far horizon. The distinct profiles of Peak C, Mount Powell, and Eagles Nest Peak are clearly visible. Fraser Valley is below.
The view northeast toward the Arapaho Peaks, Navajo, Apache, and in the distance, the distinct profile of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker rise above it all. Smoke from the High Park fire heaves into the sky.
I hang out on the summit for an hour. At 5pm, I turn to the north and identify a reasonable descent route. I plan to walk the ridge to the low point near Mount Neva. From the low point I will plunge-step or glissade the snow slope to the icy lakes below.
Jasper's north ridge goes at class 2+.
I look back at a future endeavor, Point 12660.
The ridge toward Mount Neva offers great views and easy travel.
To my left are two future endeavors, Point 11801 and Point 11831. Derek posted some solid beta for these two hardly-known IPW summits.
The crux of Jasper's north ridge. A simple third class move will get you up onto the ridge.
I look back over my shoulder at the terrain I've just traveled. Mount Jasper is out of view to the left.
This was cool: A survey marker in the middle of the ridge.
The marker says "TRUE SUMMIT 1867 / 2008." Nearby, stuffed under some rocks, is an old glass jar. It's going to be special.
And indeed it is. In the jar is a sign-in register that says "Proper summit of the Rocky Mountains..."
I reach the low-point on the ridge. The snow is in great condition to plunge-step into the basin below. I try to glissade but the low-angle snow is too soft.
The northeast ridge of Jasper comes into full view.
The view across the basin toward the Arapaho Peaks. My destination is the Arapaho Pass trail, barely visible in the distance.
Another look at the northeast ridge of Jasper.
The shadows get long. I want to enjoy a sunset from up high, so I take a leisurely hour to photograph wildflowers using my macro lens and monopod. A gusty western wind makes the flowers dance and difficult to photograph.
The absolutely stunning view of Mount Neva from the North Fork of Middle Boulder Creek. I need to get up here for sunrise soon.
I travel lightly across marshy wetlands and soft snow. Mount Jasper still towers over my right shoulder.
I reach the Arapaho Pass trail as the sun sets on South Arapaho Peak.
The last rays of daylight on the east ridge of Jasper, as seen from the Arapaho Pass trail.
I say goodbye to the beautiful Mount Jasper, turn, and walk away into a luminous twilight.
Pooneekay vatsoom ahdtuih...