Forum
Buying gear? Please use these links to help 14ers.com:

More info...

Other ways to help...

Snowmass - Advice Needed

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
User avatar
Posts: 223
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:55 pm
Location: Boulder, CO

Re: Snowmass - Advice Needed

Postby MountainMedic » Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:37 am

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. Not one, but multiple (just so we're clear) "bad accident[s] on a route" certainly don't make it a bad route, but they do make it a bad route for a beginner. Which, if I recall, was the question. Going from zero experience to having to be constantly vigilant for car-sized boulders hurling down the mountain doesn't sound like fun. I would strongly advocate against it.

User avatar
Posts: 769
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2012 4:25 pm

Re: Snowmass - Advice Needed

Postby TallGrass » Mon Jan 07, 2013 1:55 am

ameristrat wrote:But in the off chance that an accident did happen (history has shown the probability is higher here), why is there any resistance to offering the advice of looking towards another, safer route?
That's why I suggested Holy Cross, not so much for the lower-probability/higher-severity risk (ya' know, like death), but rather the higher-probability/lower-severity ones like where you're gonna live but it just becomes a painful slog-of-suckdom where your camera never leaves it's pouch. I think HC (for one) offers more options to change the difficulty/challenge/fun on the fly as well as has more routes and options for bailing. Were I to take a relative, I'd try to find the most varied and flexible route so we come out of the hike fulfilled, not underfilled nor overfilled. :wink: I think it would help if the OP updated us on his nephew's experience if he wants better suggestions. It's not about the best mountain/route, it's about the best MATCH for skill/experience/comfort. True?

MountainMedic wrote: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.
Oh, thanks, MtnMdc! Way to get me stoked for doing Snowmass. And why are your pom-poms on fire? :lol: I actually found the rock to be pretty solid on Pyramid. The amphitheater stuff is pretty well locked and the summit stretch seemed solid enough. The only loose I found was the dirt on the 1,000' steep slope twixt theater and ridge, and some parts where dirt and large gravel had filled in some steps and ledges a bit on the standard and more if off standard.
Not sure if I'll do more 14ers. The trip reports are too tiring. :wink:

Online
User avatar
Posts: 702
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 12:18 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Snowmass - Advice Needed

Postby Wish I lived in CO » Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:49 am

Thank you for all the great replies.

If my nephew and I did the Snowmass trip I think it quite likely that it would go fine and without incident. But I guess that's not enough safety margin if I'm going to be responsible for an 18 year old with no climbing experience. I knew there had been some accidents / fatalities up there recently, but I was thinking of neighboring Hagerman peak and the S-ridge, neither of which we would do. So far I've been very good on route finding and sticking very close to the established routes. Confident that way, I was hoping the "beaten path" would be safe enough for my nephew. I have a very high scree tolerance so the lower slopes above the lake do not scare / bug me much. But alas, I had forgotten about Sean Wylam, who sadly perished up high on or very near the std. route where a rock mass gave way. God rest his soul and the other gentlemen from Hagerman peak. A rock mass giving way, freak as it may be, is the type of thing out of my control I can't risk for someone else that I'd more or less be guiding.

So, other options...... Bel / Ox is certainly the safest option; but a little crowded and not quite as exciting. But still, he's never even been to the rockies, so I guess most anything would impress. Holy Cross would be a fun repeat, also "Tallgrass" suggests Holy Cross City - looks interesting, but would have to look more at the route and length, etc. I've been a fourteener guy this whole time, but I'd now also be open to something that fits the criteria of a 12-25 mile RT scenic hike with a lake to camp at and a 13er peak to climb. Any suggestions?

This may all be just an excercise though. His summer job and schedule may not allow the trip even though I'd be funding the bulk of it. I have to have realistic options and plans though that I'm OK with before even asking, so as to avoid any false hopes, thus the reason for the inquiry. After my own reflecting and then breaking the ice to him I can get his input. Thank you all again.
I look up to the mountains - does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! Psalm 121:1-2

User avatar
Posts: 1710
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2008 12:47 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Re: Snowmass - Advice Needed

Postby highpilgrim » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:47 am

Wish I lived in CO wrote:So far I've been very good on route finding and sticking very close to the established routes. Confident that way, I was hoping the "beaten path" would be safe enough for my nephew.


I don't think that lesson applies to Snowmass and the vicinity. Even the "beaten path" can be loose, and the loose contains very large and very unstable boulders. I've only climbed the western approach from Geneva Lake, but it was as loose and spooky as anything I've been on. And there have been serious accidents on nearly every approach to that summit.

I would agree with some of the other posters and would not take an inexperienced climber up there, or to Hagerman.
Call on God, but row away from the rocks.
Hunter S Thompson

User avatar
Posts: 93
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 5:46 pm
Location: Let me check the map...

Re: Snowmass - Advice Needed

Postby B[3] » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:12 am

Wish I lived in CO wrote:I've been a fourteener guy this whole time, but I'd now also be open to something that fits the criteria of a 12-25 mile RT scenic hike with a lake to camp at and a 13er peak to climb. Any suggestions?


How about Half Peak in the San Juans? Cataract Lake is beautiful, and you could camp there for an attempt on Half Peak. Half Peak is quite impressive--I have to agree with Roach that the connecting ridge to the upper summit plateau does look difficult but it's not as hard as it looks. I can't comment on the distance to Half Peak from the Cataract Gulch Trailhead (according to Roach it's 12.6 mi RT), as I did Half Peak as part of a long backpacking loop. After hiking back out to the trailhead, you could head up the road a bit and give Sunshine/Redcloud or Handies a go.
Learn from the mistakes of others--you can never live long enough to make them all yourself.--Unknown
Don't chase your dreams, catch them.--Unknown

Posts: 99
Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:16 pm

Re: Snowmass - Advice Needed

Postby pseudoghost » Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:55 pm

I've seen and read a bunch of stupid s**t in my time. Hell, I've done my fair share, but these comments, far and away, take the cake.

There have been two deaths in addition to two serious injuries on that God forsaken peak in the past two years. I can say with certainty that three out of four of those incidences happened due to the unforgiving will of that mountain, not climber error. That says something. Saying anything contrary to that is to lead another person into harm, and the blame will be on the person who trivializes Snowmass. Analysis/advice such as these will lead to blood on your hands.

Back on point to the original poster... I apologize for my scathing remarks to some of these posters. I'm glad that you're taking the time to ask about this as it shows you're not taking the mountain lightly. If it were me, I would not take a completely inexperienced teenager up Snowmass. You might have the skills to climb that peak, but that does not make up for his inexperience.


You could try to make your comments a little less hyperbolic. I understand that you were personally involved, and I understand that you have strong feelings about the subject, but claiming that we'll have "blood on our hands" is quite frankly offensive.

Also, I don't appreciate you taking my comments out of context. I still stand behind my original comment, as the rock seemed quite sold when I was up there. There were a few places where that wasn't the case (right above the lake and right below the summit ridge), but overall I didn't feel overly concerned about rockfall at the time. Clearly, there is a rockfall hazard that everyone should be aware of, but it's not so severe as to preclude climbing Snowmass period.

I'm not going to second guess the decisions that others made on Snowmass, but to avoid a mountain simply because there were a few accidents seems superstitious to me. Especially considering, that there have been major incidents/accidents including fatalities on many peaks (including "easier" ones) throughout the years... I guess it's just easier to ignore those incidents when you can chalk it up to "human error."

I agree with everyone here that there are easier peaks to climb, such as Holy Cross. If you want to make a nice car shuttle out of Holy Cross you could consider doing Missouri Lakes/Pass over to the Cross Creek drainage, with a climb up Holy Cross. Of course, you'd miss Halo Ridge that way, but it would still be pretty nice.

Re: Snowmass - Advice Needed

Postby lodgling » Mon Jan 07, 2013 1:22 pm

Returning to the OP --

My advice is to not underestimate your ability to blow the mind of a first-time hiker in CO. I recall my mind being blown by even the drive to the trailhead back in the day.

I would pick some of the lower-hanging fruit from your own list of goals in CO and then just bring your nephew along for the ride. Whatever you choose, our incredible state of CO will undoubtably deliver!

That said, I echo those that have expressed concern about Snowmass as an intro to hiking in CO and would not consider Snowmass low-hanging fruit.

User avatar
Posts: 1192
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:33 pm
Location: Crestone, CO and/or Chapel Hill, NC

Re: Snowmass - Advice Needed

Postby jdorje » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:36 pm

pseudoghost wrote:claiming that we'll have "blood on our hands" is quite frankly offensive.


It may be offensive (understandable given his emotional tie to the answer) but I don't think it's completely unwarranted.

Hypothetically, say the OP listened to your advice and took his teenage nephew up Snowmass. Some accident/injury occurred (certainly possible at a low probability, considering the injury rate of experienced climbers on the mountain). In the aftermath, people would dissect the accident as they always do, and conclude that he was a fool for taking his nephew on that mountain.

Now, would you:

(A) Think to yourself "oh well, bad luck"
(B) Feel guilty for advising him that Snowmass was a great mountain for a complete beginner

There are tons of mountains that are completely safe that fit the OP's requirements. Even limiting it to 14ers that he hasn't climbed himself, there are quite a few. Doing anything other than a walkup for someone with no mountain or climbing experience (the OP hinted this was the case, but didn't state so outright) is completely unnecessary to have a great experience.
-Jason Dorje Short

User avatar
Posts: 769
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2012 4:25 pm

Re: Snowmass - Advice Needed

Postby TallGrass » Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:32 pm

jdorje wrote:There are tons of mountains that are completely safe ...
Do share. Not even the sidewalk by my driveway is free from risk. Granted no hiker has ever gotten so much as a blister on Olympus Mons, but the plane fare, MAN! :wink:
Not sure if I'll do more 14ers. The trip reports are too tiring. :wink:

User avatar
Posts: 1192
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:33 pm
Location: Crestone, CO and/or Chapel Hill, NC

Re: Snowmass - Advice Needed

Postby jdorje » Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:42 pm

TallGrass wrote:
jdorje wrote:There are tons of mountains that are completely safe ...
Do share. Not even the sidewalk by my driveway is free from risk. Granted no hiker has ever gotten so much as a blister on Olympus Mons, but the plane fare, MAN! :wink:


I knew someone would call me on that, and rightfully so :).

But as I see it, there is a baseline level of risk in all life. For Americans, this baseline risk is sitting on your couch. On average every hour of exercise extends your life expectancy by two hours; so, a few days hiking will extend your lifespan by maybe a day. By this metric (even accounting for some exaggeration in the 2:1 ratio), there are many mountains that you can climb (ascend) that will have a negative level of risk compared to the baseline.

Or to put it another way: there are many mountains where you can expect a longer life if you climb them versus if you do not. Completely safe.
Last edited by jdorje on Mon Jan 07, 2013 11:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
-Jason Dorje Short

User avatar
Posts: 822
Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2006 11:05 am
Location: Boulder

Re: Snowmass - Advice Needed

Postby DaveSwink » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:23 pm

jdorje wrote:But as I see it, there is a baseline level of risk in all life. For Americans, this baseline risk is sitting on your couch. On average every hour of exercise extends your life expectancy by two hours; so, a few days hiking will extend your lifespan by maybe a day. By this metric (even accounting for some exaggeration in the 2:1 ratio), there are many mountains that you can climb (ascend) that will have a negative level of risk compared to the baseline.


One of the smoothest rationalizations I have ever read. One beer away from complete buy-in. :-D

User avatar
Posts: 275
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2009 8:05 pm
Location: Fort Collins, CO

Re: Snowmass - Advice Needed

Postby dpage » Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:20 am

[quote="TallGrass"][quote="ameristrat"] I think HC (for one) offers more options to change the difficulty/challenge/fun on the fly as well as has more routes and options for bailing.

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?

PreviousNext

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests