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Snowmass - Advice Needed

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Re: Snowmass - Advice Needed

Postby milan » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:26 am

I agree with those who don't reccomend it for a complete newbie. To me, the mountain was not technically difficult. At all. It was without snow and most of it was boulder-hopping. The part above the lake is loose, scree, I didn't like it because it "sucks" and takes too much energy. But I wasn't afraid there. I would be afraid if there was someone above who would knock down rocks because it's steep. Than the melted snowfield - big boulders, not very steep at the beginning, steeper close to the ridge (summer route) but overall OK.
The biggest concern and I was afraid there was after gaining the standard route on the side of the ridge. It's still not difficult but its loose. There is no established route (or there is too many of them - go where you like it) so being on/of route there is no way to say. There are piles of rocks, big, huge boulders, most of them solid but sometimes you touch a 1 ton heavy boulder and it will move towards you, or it get's loose and falls down the slope. And you move between those the entire time untill the summit. No way to predict which one is OK and which one falls on you. I deal very well with loose rock. I didn't find Pyramid, N.Maroon, S.Maroon, Mt. Wilson and El Diente as dangerous as I found Snowmass. The loose rock on those is most times scree, dirt, little boudlers - one expect it to move and predict it. On snowmas, very big and solid looking rocks fall suddenly and I'd say it's kind of playing a rullete.
The last thing, the trip will require a lot of endurance even if you split it in two days. Lot's of miles (with full backpack), lot's of elevation gain, the difficult part around the summit...I'd say it's very similar to Longs Peak (except the loose rock on Snowmass).
On the other side, the trip is one of the most beautiful trip's I've done in my life. Sleeping at the lake is unbelievable. It all is so pretty.
Suggestions - If you need other fun class 3 - trip Wetterhorn-Uncompahgre from Matterhorn Creek was a good suggestion I noticed here, you may include Handies/Sunshine/Redcloud. Chicago Basin was also a good suggestion. And what about Longs? Too crowded? Kit Carson and Challenger Point in 2 days? Humboldt?

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Re: Snowmass - Advice Needed

Postby spiderman » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:32 am

Perhaps I got lucky and stepped on all of the right rocks, but the standard route on Snowmass was solid for me. I saw the potential for deadly rockfall, but thought that the talus overall was relatively stable for my particular route. Not to minimize the danger because there have been too many people who have been killed on that seemingly easy peak. I did a traverse to North Snowmass and that path scared the jujus out of me. I have never been as scared of falling talus as on that traverse. Thousand pound boulders were wobbling around beneath my feet. The traverse is short and class 2/3, but scary as heck on the particular path that I took. I think that it would be much safer, albeit longer, to come back down the Snowmass Lake face of the peak and then traverse below the cliffbands. Adds a fair bit of time and elevation gain, but seems like a safer way to do the combo. Anybody else run into problems on the traverse? Be safe up on N. Snowmass, Chris. It scares me much more than Snowmass itself.



ChrisinAZ wrote:Fletch's description of Snowmass as having "bad juju" is pretty spot-on, at least for me. It's a fantastically beautiful mountain, but I can't think of many other 14ers that have even come close to making me feel as uneasy as Snowmass did (maybe the 30' of slick, cold Hourglass on LB). Even Capitol, made of the same kind of rock, felt more solid...if only because it's so steep most of the loose chunks of rock have already slid off. That mountain is a collection of loose, giant shards of granite that feel ready to slide at the slightest touch, and I didn't feel even somewhat safe again until I was back off the ridge on the standard route. The scrambling may not be overly difficult, but I'll take solid class 4 over horrifically loose and dangerous class 2 any day of the week (and parts of Snowmass were definitely class 3). Being acquainted with many of those involved in the two recent fatalities on that massif, the common theme seems to be that parts of the mountain just give way, and bad news for you if you happen to be there when it happens.

I'm planning to go up there again to get N Snowmass next summer, but a part of me is going to be on edge until I get back down that mountain safely, and it has me more worried than any remaining climbs I have planned on any of the 14ers. In short, I would strongly agree with anyone who recommends you climb a different mountain. Pick an easier and noncommitting class 3 (Wetterhorn, Crestone Pk as an overnight, etc.) or climb something easier with incredible views.

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Re: Snowmass - Advice Needed

Postby TallGrass » Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:22 pm

dpage wrote:Since the 2 routes listed on Holy Cross are the standard route and the Halo and the other routes listed in Roach's guide are snow climbs, what are the 'bail out' options?
HCR, Tuhare, Shelter, Notch, Fall Creek, Hunky Dory... If you limit your research to this site and Roach, you'll miss out on a lot of variations applicable to the OP's goals.
Not sure if I'll do more 14ers. The trip reports are too tiring. :wink:

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Re: Snowmass - Advice Needed

Postby cheeseburglar » Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:31 pm

MountainMedic wrote:
cheeseburglar wrote:I'm sorry about the terrible accidents that have occurred on Snowmass.
But one bad accident on a route doesn't make it a bad route.
If the Snowmass standard route is loose, no one should go anywhere near the Bells, Pyramid, or Capitol.


Snowmass has its own place in hell. I haven't climbed Pyramid, but Snowmass was way looser than any of the other mountains you listed. "Bad juju" seems to be the right term. Nobody's saying it shouldn't be climbed, but anybody with a brain is saying it shouldn't be climbed by someone with no experience on a whim. The hours before the accident in which I and others were involved were some of the best in my life, and one day I will probably climb the S-Ridge again.


So I take it you are saying the S ridge on Snowmass is looser than the Bells and Capitol?
I strongly disagree with your statement that Snowmass is looser, if you include the standard route. If you are only talking about the S ridge, I might not argue much.
And if you are planning a summer trip in winter, I wouldn't call it a whim. They have plenty of time to prepare.
The marmot said “Nobody is perfect and you are not nobody.”

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Re: Snowmass - Advice Needed

Postby Duffus Kentucky Climber » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:18 pm

mtgirl wrote:
SurfNTurf wrote:Give all the advice you want people, but please don't trivialize Snowmass. Class 3 or not, that mountain is dangerous. There are far more suitable destinations for a first 14er backpack.


Completely agree ! This coming from someone who is 0 for 2 on Snowmass with only four 14ers remaining. Both times I turned back due to creepy rockfall situations. Will be going for attempt #3, with snow this time.


Snowmass was the only 14er attempt that failed for Jan and me. I blame it on 12 hours of sitting in the the tent by the lake while it poured rain. This made for a slip-n-slide at the start of the route and two exhausted wet and dissapointed climbers when we got to our turn around time before we got to the summit.
This was the last 14er we hiked in the month of July.
It looks like the ridge is just right up there!

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