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Mt. Massive winter route?

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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Mt. Massive winter route?

Postby vdavidoff » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:14 pm

I am researching my next 14er attempt, which will hopefully happen in the next few weeks if possible. I searched and dug a few pages deep on this and didn't find anything specifically about Massive in winter. Apologies if it's in there and I missed it.

It seems most people prefer Massive's Southwest Slopes to the East Slopes even though it's a steeper ascent. I am trying to determine if it's safe to attempt in winter (snow). I am not the best map reader (I am learning) but to me it looks like there's a huge chunk of the Southwest Slopes that sends you up a fairly steep face (vs. being up on a ridge or down in a valley). To my untrained eye this looks like it could be a serious avalanche risk. Is it? The shaded slope feature at caltopo.com seems to suggest the route shifts west around most of the risk on that face, but not until it crosses some of it (red shading) from 13000 to 13200. I think.

http://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=39.17545,-106.47451&z=15&b=t&n=0.25&o=r&a=slp_s-11111111

And again, if I'm reading this thing correctly, it looks like the East Slopes are pretty safe. Just longer and apparently not as scenic.

Thanks for any information. And if anyone wants to help me understand whether or not the way I'm looking at the terrain map is accurate, that'd be awesome.

Andy

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Re: Mt. Massive winter route?

Postby Dancesatmoonrise » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:22 pm

Andy,

Pretty much all I know about it is here:

http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=9820&parmuser=Dancesatmoonrise&start=50&cpgm=tripuser

We found the route favorable in winter.


Good luck.





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Re: Mt. Massive winter route?

Postby Scott P » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:32 pm

Willow Creek and the Fish Hatchery route seem to be the two preferred routes in winter.

Here is a description I wrote for the Willow Creek Route:

http://www.summitpost.org/willow-creek-east-slopes-winter-route/163676

The Southwest Slopes route is usually a very long multi-day route in winter because of the road closure. This year is a dry year though, so you may be able to drive farther. Still, the Southwest Slopes route would be very seldom done in winter. The East Face route would actually be much shorter; especially from Willow Creek.
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Re: Mt. Massive winter route?

Postby Justin9 » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:36 pm

Take a look at the recent trip report from awilbur for some info on where not to go. If you do attempt, I could be interested in joining you if you don't mind some company.

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Re: Mt. Massive winter route?

Postby Rossback » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:50 pm

I'm going to attempt a summit of the north peak on Massive March 17 from Skinner Hut (top of Hagerman pass). Weather will be the dictator here - if the wind is blowing as it often can, it will be a miserable hike and I may just ski. I've not received any feedback on a good route, but the topo (and my previous experience just hiking for no particular reason up there) seems to indicate it's not too bad. If you want to join - we have a good group heading to Skinner on the 16th. Our goal is Skinner, though -- Massive is a bonus.

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Re: Mt. Massive winter route?

Postby SurfNTurf » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:36 pm

I'll echo that the East Ridge (Northeast Ridge) from the Leadville Fish Hatchery is the commonly accepted winter route. With a careful eye you can avoid most avalanche danger, but be prepared for a long day.
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Re: Mt. Massive winter route?

Postby Bean » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:13 am

Not knowing anything about any of the other routes in winter, I'll second this:

Dancesatmoonrise wrote:Andy,

Pretty much all I know about it is here:

http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=9820&parmuser=Dancesatmoonrise&start=50&cpgm=tripuser

We found the route favorable in winter.


Good luck.





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Re: Mt. Massive winter route?

Postby I Man » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:57 am

SurfNTurf wrote:I'll echo that the East Ridge (Northeast Ridge) from the Leadville Fish Hatchery is the commonly accepted winter route. With a careful eye you can avoid most avalanche danger, but be prepared for a long day.


Surf isn't kidding -it is a long day. When we did it last February, his group was smart and overnighted it. I imagine they enjoyed their day more than we did. The cross country ski trails are something like 3 miles just to get to the base of the climb. I also agree that with a careful eye the avy danger can be avoided, but don't discount it!
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Re: Mt. Massive winter route?

Postby sgladbach » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:03 am

I've used the fish hatchery route, the Willow Creek route, and the SW slopes routes in winter.

IMO, with the road closed and if you are not looking for a ski descent, the Fish Hatchery route would be my recommendation as easiest to find and follow.
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Re: Mt. Massive winter route?

Postby vdavidoff » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:31 am

Thanks for all the detailed information!

It's starting to sound like this might be a little more than I'm ready to get into just now, at least solo. I'll re-review all this info over the next few days but I think I might dig for something a little less intense in the near term. Though the Fish Hatchery route sounds like it'd be the one to try, if I tried this.

Thanks again!
Andy

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Re: Mt. Massive winter route?

Postby I Man » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:38 am

vdavidoff wrote:Thanks for all the detailed information!

It's starting to sound like this might be a little more than I'm ready to get into just now, at least solo. I'll re-review all this info over the next few days but I think I might dig for something a little less intense in the near term. Though the Fish Hatchery route sounds like it'd be the one to try, if I tried this.

Thanks again!
Andy


IMO, the Fish hatchery route (and Massive in general) is one of the hardest winter Sawatch peaks. A solo attempt could be very taxing mentally, starting and ending well before/after dark. I did it with a group of almost 10 and still consider it to be my toughest day chasing snowflakes last season.
You can touch the void, just don't fall into it.

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Re: Mt. Massive winter route?

Postby SurfNTurf » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:51 am

vdavidoff wrote:Thanks for all the detailed information!

It's starting to sound like this might be a little more than I'm ready to get into just now, at least solo. I'll re-review all this info over the next few days but I think I might dig for something a little less intense in the near term. Though the Fish Hatchery route sounds like it'd be the one to try, if I tried this.

Thanks again!
Andy


I was going to suggest Elbert, but it appears that's the one 14er you've already done. :lol:

Quandary, Bierstadt, Pikes via Crags and Mt. Sherman are great starter winter peaks. If you're looking for a longer day, La Plata, Yale, Humboldt and Grays/Torreys are also reasonable. Just keep in mind those latter four require alternate routes or significant deviations from the summer trails to avoid avalanche danger. Feel free to PM me if you're researching any of those.
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“There are two kinds of climbers: those who climb because their heart sings when they’re in the mountains, and all the rest.” - Alex Lowe

"There have been joys too great to describe in words, and there have been griefs upon which I cannot dare to dwell; and with those in mind I say, 'Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste, look well to each step, and from the beginning think what may be the end.'" - Edward Whymper

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