| Fun day to James!
We were getting a little cooped up this winter / spring, so decided to grab some easy above treeline time and maybe dust off the snowshoes. We decided on James Pk primarily because we didn't want to wake up very early!
We first stopped at the new-ish Waffle Bros, at 393 Corona. Nothing fuels you like a peanut butter and banana topped waffle!
Anyway, we finally hit the trail at about 10:45 (we REALLY slept in!). Not very crowded, only about 10 cars total. I guess we are paying for parking here now. I don't remember that from the last time I was at St Mary's, but that was probably last summer.
We put on our yaktrax and headed up to the lake. The snow was pretty hard packed, but icy in spots, so the yaktrax and hiking poles were nice to have.
Starting out, weather pretty good. 40s, no wind, sunny.
At the lake. Still some snow, and lake was frozen over still. Again, yaktrax helpful, but not necessary. You would be fine with hiking poles and boots.
Onto the glacier. We put on our snowshoes before stepping onto the snowfield. However, once on there, the snow was again hard packed. We could have been fine with yaktrax and poles, crampons and axes, or even just boots and poles. We passed by some tourists wandering around with snowshoes, and a group of people working on snowclimbing skills. These people were slowly making their way up the snowfield - of course they were carrying big heavy packs, dragging equipment sleds, and were roped up. Not sure what they were up to.
We topped out off the snowfield, and the rest of the route was pretty obvious.
We decided to head to the left and work our way across and up the south slops before getting on the ridge close to the summit. During the walk across the flat area, we were happy to have the snowshoes, since the snow was a little deep in parts and a lot softer than on the glacier. The south slopes were ok, but we were pounded by a nasty cold wind that was blowing lots of snow in our faces. Fortunately it quit by the time we got to the ridge.
Going up the south slopes --
When we came onto the ridge a few hundred feet below the summit, we bumped into a couple guys who had skinned up the north slops and were going to ski down. They were nice enough to take our picture -
This is where we ditched the snowshoes. The ridge had plenty of exposed rock and grass, so it was pretty easy going from hear. Also, the brutal winds from the south slopes weren't hitting the ridge.
At the summit - a guy was digging out one of the snowed in windbreaks. His dog was not helping.
On the way down, we decided to take the ridge the whole way towards the top of the glacier. Some photos of the way down, with great views! Plus, very decent and lengthy glissades down parts of the summit ridge, and of course on the glacier! A bit of a bumpy ride in part because of the wind formed ridges on the snow.
And going back down the trail from the lake.
Overall a really fun trip. About 3 hours up, 2 hours down - five hours car to car. I would recommend James right now to anyone who wants to work on ice or snow skills, skiers, or if you just want to stretch your legs and start getting in shape for summer 14er season.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):