Snowmass Question

Colorado 14er peak questions, condition requests and other info. 14er Trip Reports, Condition Reports
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Snowmass Question

Postby nyker » Sat Mar 16, 2013 4:03 pm

Hi all.

Got a question on Snowmass.

I'm planning to attempt this in mid-Spring while there is still good snow coverage, so that after the lake, this is a snowclimb up to the ridge.

Once on the snowfield which leads up to the summit ridge, do you prefer to ascend directly towards the direction of the summit
(though still hidden from this point ) or towards that left "bump" and then getting to the other side of the ridge from there before heading
right towards the summit proper? Appears from some reports, the rock behind the ridge leading to the summit is better after the exit higher up when
you take the more direct route rather than the route which travels towards the "bump" lower down the ridge and ascends from there?

Past trip reports (and recent incidents) point to rockfall on the section up to the summit; is there any safety offered by snowcover on that
side or is the terrain there not as conducive to holding snow like on the east flank/snowfield?

Any thoughts/suggestions are welcome.

Re: Snowmass Question

Postby ameristrat » Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:33 pm

This probably isn't as thorough of an answer as you'd like, but when i climbed it, we popped over the ridge very close to the summit. I'd say if snow is continuous, go for that. The last several hundred yards will be a steeper snow climb (as compared to the rest of the route).

I'm planning on giving Snowmass a shot again in Late May this year - hopefully it's in good shape!
You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know. - Rene Daumal

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Re: Snowmass Question

Postby Matt Lemke » Sat Mar 16, 2013 10:06 pm

I also did the climb by popping up onto the ridge very close to the summit in October under about 1-2 feet of fresh fall snow. The rocks in that gully were not bad. From what I hear its the ridge lower down (if you head for the "bump" and follow the ridge the rest of the way) that has the higher rockfall danger.
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Re: Snowmass Question

Postby screeman57 » Sat Mar 16, 2013 10:44 pm

+1 on coming out near the summit. When I did it in late May 2010, the slope steepened significantly at the top of the snowfield, and there was a 2 ft. Bergschrund to cross to get onto the rock (quite a pucker factor in doing this). But the snow was very solid.
"Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was." -Dag Hammarskjold

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Re: Snowmass Question

Postby nyker » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:30 am

Thanks guys. I notice a few people on their reports while heading straight up towards the summit on the ascent, did the reverse on the way down
exiting back further down on the ridge to regain the snowfield. Any reason for this?

Screeman, I've heard of that Bergschrund ...more scary would be if that gap might be hidden by a late season snowfall or bridge I imagine?
Did that Bergschrund extend for the length of the ridge? Any ways to mitigate running into this?

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Re: Snowmass Question

Postby SchralpTheGnar » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:48 am

They probably did that because the steep snow right below the summit is very steep and not that appealing of a downclimb. It's short, ~500 vertical feet, and not exposed, but when we skied it we measured the steepest part at 61 degrees. When we climbed and skied this in May of 2008, I didn't notice any bergschrund at all, but the snow was highly variable and at one point we punch through to our waist.

Re: Snowmass Question

Postby SnowAlien » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:00 pm

nyker wrote:I notice a few people on their reports while heading straight up towards the summit on the ascent, did the reverse on the way down exiting back further down on the ridge to regain the snowfield. Any reason for this?

Our group did that. We climbed Snowmass on July 31 of a big snow year (2011) and the snow was melting out fast. We took the direct route to the summit, but the snow was getting thin. On the way back, we did not want to downclimb 55 degree slope in thin conditions (and deal again with Bergschrund, which wasn't too bad actually), so we took the ridge and the standard snow route. Btw, one of the big rocks on the ridge unexpectedly got loose, so I second to be extra careful about that ridge, and the mountain in general.

The other thing to think about is logjam. I hear it is quite a challenge to cross earlier in the season. When we did it in July, it still was tricky (and slippery). Good luck!

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Re: Snowmass Question

Postby _NW_ » Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:47 am

We did Snowmass last May 21 and post holing was the name of the game. I'm not sure if snow amounts are similar this year though. We got a "lovely" sunny warm day for our attempt. We went up the scree slope and it was warm, muddy rocks and snow that pulled away as fast as we could go up it for a few sections. The snow was great before the sun touched it but as soon as the sun came up, sink sink sink and it was crappy old snow anyway. As we approached the ridge (we planned on going toward the "bump" then the summit) I could just set my ice axe on the snow and give it a little tap and it would sink the whole shaft deep. We turned around. The only other guy we encountered started earlier then us and said he barely made it up the ridge and kept sinking through while heading toward the summit. So my suggestion is start really early if conditions are similar this year, we left camp a little after 4:00am. The log jam was a piece of cake though, the water was pretty low. It sounds like it was misery the whole time but I had a great time and I know she's sitting there waiting for me to come see her again!

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