|Peak:||James Peak (13er)|
|Route:||St Mary\'s glacier|
|Date of Info:||02/29/2020|
Fantastic conditions, could hardly be better:
Hard packed snow from hundreds of visitors all the way to the lake. Iced over on the actual glacier making for a great surface on the glacier itself (including the ability to just put yourself on your butt and slide down on the way back). From there, the long slog across the plateau and along the usual trail up to James Peak itself is a mixture of tundra with little snow cover, hard frozen sastrugi, and occasionally a hard crust that breaks down 3 or 4 inches -- the latter is of course annoying, but it happened rarely enough that snowshoes are not necessary.
We stayed closed to the East Ridge on the way down, basically heading straight for the top of the glacier. That provided a mostly quite pleasant descent since one could string together small snow patch after small snow patch, and just sink one's heel into the snow. I'm not sure it would have been better to take that on the way up, but it definitely the way to go for the way back -- it's also got fantastic views down the steep north side of the ridge.
We wore microspikes from the road to the top and all the way back, and that was entirely the right choice.