| A Winter Return to the Elks.
January 22, 2012
~12.6 Miles, ~5,600 Gain.
TH: ~.9 miles below the Snowmass Creek Trailhead. Winter closure of Snowmass Creek Road. (~3.5 hours from Denver)
Getting the Flu blows. After eating up several of my days off and a few days of work, I was finally feeling good enough to get outside and climb something. I was hoping for something a little closer to Denver but the wind was not favoring any of the 13ers I had left to climb locally. With a little homework, I found a great winter 13er option near Snowmass.
I drove to the winter closure of the Snowmass Creek Road on Monday and slept in my car. From what I could find online, closer parking could be found at the Snowmass Ski area but the parking would have cost me $25 bucks! From the free parking location at the Snowmass Ski area (bus service not operational at 5 AM), it would have been an additional 3.5 miles to the ski area.
Waking up early wasn't too painful and I put my skis on and started skinning up the road at 5:10 AM. Originally, I was planning on skinning all the way up the road to Snowmass Village, intercept a blue groomed run, and then skin the top of the ski area. To my surprise, I was amazed at how compacted the black runs were. Good for skinning. Instead of more mileage at a lower grade, I took a more direct line and skinned up “Campground” ski run to the top of Sam's Knob. A couple of steep sections for skinning but nothing too difficult.
Sunrise while skinning up Snowmass Ski area.
Sunrise on Sopris.
As I neared the top of Sam's Knob, I ran into a morning ski patroller who was surprisingly friendly. I continued skinning up “Sneaky's” to the summit Big Burn. I arrived at the top of ski area at 8 AM and continuing skinning south for another .1 mile outside of the ski boundary before I stashed my skis. Nothing left but a long wind blown talus ridge. It was depressing how little snow resided on the ridge.
Just south of the ski area boundry.
Wind blown north ridge on Baldy.
Willoughby (next on winter elk 13er list)
First view of the Bells.
The climbing to point 12,640 was class 1. Between 12,640 and Baldy some rock outcroppings were encountered but bypassed easily to the east at class 2. From the summit of Baldy to the summit of 13,244 was all class 2 with plenty of ups and downs. I arrived on the summit of 13,244 at 9:50 AM which took longer than I had anticipated from the top of the ski area. 13,244 is probably the easiest and safest high Elk peak in the winter.
Looking at Baldy from 12,640.
Capitol Peak from the north ridge on 13,244.
The final up on 13,244.
Snowmass and Capitol from the summit of 13,244.
Looking back at the long north ridge of 13,244.
View towards Aspen from the summit of 13,244.
BW of the Bells.
BW of Snowmass.
Pyramid and the Bells.
My stay on the summit of 13,244 was short due to a brisk cold wind. The skies were clear and I had wonderful views of all the Elk 14ers. I returned to my stashed skis and enjoyed my free ski run at Snowmass with all of the yuppie skiers. Considering the snow quality, I would have been extremely upset if I had spent $114 bucks for a lift ticket. Lots of rocks protruded out of the snow along with grass and small trees. I returned to my car at 12:10 PM. A satisfactory day in the Elks.
Mountain Goats on my descent.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):