Snowmass Mountain  
Condition Updates  
 
Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2019-08-20, By: Ptglhs
Info: Chris' report from this weekend is quite accurate. I wanted to add a few details. The direct route is viable with minimal difficulty getting to the ridge from the snow. The snow is quite steep. I would recommend crampons and an axe for the direct route. You may be able to get away with an axe and traction on the standard route. For the approach: if you cross the creek just downstream of the log jam it's MUCH easier. You wade through some knee deep water that can be forded barefoot. You then have to scramble over the avalanche deadfall and rejoin the trail 30ft over, but it's better to deal with water and deadfall separately. (Photo one shows where I crossed, looking down trail). The scree slope is a nightmare. Worst part of this hike is coming down that thing. At about 11.9k you'll notice a cairn on both sides of the drainage. When ascending it is possible to cross to the north carefully on some flatter sections of the rock with the water flowing (careful, they are slippery). Once on the north side there is a use trail through the dirt and willows that gains another 2/300 feet before it fades out. It's a much better way to get to the slabby rock and tundra than the scree. (Photo 2) 
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Route: S Ridge
Posted On: 2019-08-20, By: Buckie06
Info: Man what a fantastic route! Free and clear of any snow. We car camped and the mosquitos at the Lead King TH are horrible. the turn off from the main trail is not obvious, but you can clearly see the two chimneys as you hike up. So make your best guess as when to turn right and head up. Hiking up to the base of the chimneys is loose boulders and scree, it sucks but it's short. We took climber's left chimney, but wish we would of done the class 3/4 face between the two. The chimney was very loose and dangerous. Once above the chimneys it was an awesome scramble up the ridge to the summit. Great rock quality and fun moves. 
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Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2019-08-18, By: cdgibbons
Info: The snowmass is getting patchy. I climbed continuous snow from 13,000' to 13,600' on the standard route. There were certainly options to be on snow lower; it would be hard to make them continuous. The direct variation appeared to still be in. I spoke with two people who climbed it, but did not observe it firsthand. Photo from the lake included. Without snow, I found the 150' from the snow to the ridge to be probably the hardest climbing of the standard route- low class 3 on large blocks, some of which are loose. There were some cairns on a rock rib to the left of where I ascended. I found the summit ridge well-cairned and easier than it appeared from the photos. The willows are a pain, as has been well-reported elsewhere. Probably on par with Bierstadt pre-boardwalk, for those of us old enough to remember that. While my ascent was messy, on the return I found that if you get to the junction in the second photo (taken just past the stream crossing, to the left, facing uphill), and go center-right (rather than hard right), there is a trail all the way through. It goes close to, but not along, the lakeshore for the first half, then, about halfway across and opposite a striking cliff on the other side of the lake, it turns left at a fork, climbs about 50 feet, and continues across on drier, higher ground. 
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Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2019-08-07, By: Cranfillpe
Info: I was on continuous, although occasionally sketchy, snow, from 12,200'. The direct route to the summit was great w crampons/ice ax, highly recommend. I had two major route finding issues. The log jam is easy to miss in the dark. No sign, and the "social trail" continues past it on the same side of the ponds. I probably went a half mile past the jam before I realized I had completely blown by it. The "trail" on that skirts Snowmass Lake is ...uh... trying to keep things positive here... It was not my favorite "trail." Initially I missed it and unknowingly hiked up Trail Rider Pass for a while before I figured out what was going on. When I finally found the correct (I think...) "trail," it was very tough to follow, not to mention generally stay upright on. There was deep mud, small ponds, wet roots positioned to eject you into the lake, etc.... Considering this combined with the upper portion of the scree field (read: "slip-and-slide") to follow, I opted to take a different descent route. After summiting Snowmass and N Snowmass (highly recommend) I opted to skirt around the bottom of the cliffs of Hagerman Peak to intercept Trail Rider Pass. This involved a few high 3 down climbs and several brief snowfield traverses, but it was worth it in my opinion. This trail is much simpler than the scree and mud alternative, not to mention unbelievably scenic. 
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Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2019-08-05, By: Klad24
Info: Beautiful day on the Snowmass. Started from the lake around 03:30. Got lost a few times in the willows getting around the lake. Kinda hard to discern the trail in the dark. Ended up following a bootpack slightly to the left of the more-direct alternative to gain the summit ridge. The move to get to the summit ridge rock from the snowfield was a little difficult and I'd consider it closer to class four. Probably would not recommend following my tracks for that. Rest of the ridge was smooth sailing. Took the standard route on the way down and that worked out well. Was able to glissade about 1,500 vertical feet down the snowmass on the way home. Couldn't imagine attempting this route without an axe. 
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Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2019-08-03, By: Will_E
Info: Summitted Snowmass yesterday, did the route in 1 day. The willows around the lake were a pain to get through, ran into 1 guy that turned around after getting completely soaked by them in early morning. I passed by the lake around 9:30 am, they were mostly dry. A lot of snow up there still, I took crampons and axe. Never used Crampons, but had axe at the ready for the downclimb. Thankfully didn't have to use it. Long day. 
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Route: West Slope
Posted On: 2019-07-31, By: Tacocat Climbing
Info: Went up the west slopes today. Drove to Crystal and tried to follow the road up as high as it I could go with my truck. Made it pretty far, to a campsite before a real rough part. It was pretty stressful driving up the road, it is really rough at parts, although the alternative road is closed due to an avalanche, so I heard. This is a pretty tough hike, a little moreso than I was anticipating. Was able to identify the proper gully to head up by the green grass at the base of it. There is snow in the gully, but I was able to easily avoid all of it, no need for crampons or an axe (unless you plan on glissading down the bumpy and steep snow) It is non-stop steep climbing to the summit after the lakes. I was a little worried about the weather so I went up with just 1 5min break, it was tough! The weather ended up being just fine though. Better safe than sorry! Video of the hike: https://youtu.be/tW-li9a8zTE 
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Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2019-07-29, By: adamsjordan78
Info: Snow is avoidable for a couple hundred yards after gaining the scree field, but consistent after that until the ridge, regardless of taking the standard or more direct route. Current snowmelt has the more direct route from the route description as the much easier option. We took the standard route to gain the ridge and would have been EXTREMELY uncomfortable with anything less than spikes and an axe. Pitch somewhere around 45 degrees. Ridge is completely snow free. Took the direct variation on the way down, cornice free and probably closer to 30-35 degree pitch opposed to the possible 50 described. Smooth glisading down, although some larger boulders are beginning to present themselves. I would use caution after a couple more weeks of melt when sliding down. 
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Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2019-07-24, By: Joshvirenw
Info: Heed the warning about snow in the Elks. I did Snowmass today, and I did not bring an ice axe. This was a poor decision that could have ended badly. This climb does not need the axe until the final steep pitch before you gain the ridge, but it is very important and would have helped me climb up and down this section safely. 
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Route: Via Hagerman
Posted On: 2019-07-20, By: WildWanderer
Info: Snow free from Hagerman to summit (see Hagerman report for more details). Took west slope down: gullies still have snow and so does the basin above Geneva Lake. End of gullies are waterfalls. 
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Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2019-07-15, By: Vertical Wanderer
Info: From the trailhead to lake it is pretty straight forward. Paths have been cut through most of the avalanche debris. The log jam is tricky but passable without getting wet as long as you have good balance, trekking poles, or both! Still lots of snow and mud around the lake before the gully up to the snowfield. We went up the left side of the gully which is extremely loose and, unfortunately, not covered in snow anymore. Ascended the bump on the ridge to the summit, and was able to glissade down the direct variation for the decent. Still tons of snow up there that wont be melting any time soon. And if you are planning on camping at the lake, bring a fishing pole - there were dozens of 10-14 inch trout right at the creek outlet! 
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Route: West Slope
Posted On: 2019-07-14, By: gairbear
Info: 5.5 miles from trail head the road has a river through it. Then 4 miles from the trail head the road is completely destroyed by avalanche debris. Round trip hike will between 17 and 20 miles (not 9). Prepare accordingly or take a different route. 
 
Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2019-07-11, By: davidnr
Info: There is consistent snow starting at the lake. The path around the willows is dodgy and inconsistent due to avalanche debris. The boulder field is cake because it is covered with snow. The first gully was shedding snow fast when I was there yesterday. Above it is all snow except for the back side of the summit ridge. I used an ice axe and micro spikes. Had one slip and self-arrested. I recommend going up the standard route. I did glissade off the variation. It was a blast! Unless you are a really strong and fast climber I recommend camping out the night before. 
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Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2019-07-11, By: dweiss2
Info: Heavy intermittent snow from the lake (steep traversing, not much fun). Continuous snow above the gully to the snowmass. The lake and gully to the snowmass may be the most frustrating parts of the whole climb. The gully leading to the snowmass is no longer continuous snow, so you will have to get on that cruddy loose rock unfortunately. Not too bad on the way up, but frustrating on the way down and the sketchiest part of the whole climb in my opinion. Large suncups in the snowmass proper, but there are runnels that make navigating much quicker, so follow those. Moderate snow slope leading to the ridge was just beginning to soften up at 9 AM, but supportable even at 10:30. Careful on the way down as this section could have severe consequences if you slid. Ridge to the summit is dry, with only one minor snow crossing just beyond the white rock rib that can be avoided by taking the ridge crest. Began hike at 5 AM back to the tent at 1:30. Crampons and an ice axe recommended. 
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Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2019-07-10, By: Wentzl
Info: The photo is a look at Snowmass from Pyramid. Wow that is a lot of snow! 
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Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2019-07-06, By: dcsheldon
Info: Hiked to Snowmass Lake on 7/4 and to the peak of Snowmass Mtn on 7/5. Hiked out on 7/6. There are several avalanche debris fields on the way to the lake. One was a bit of a pain just past the creek crossing. But nothing that would stop you. Based on previous reports we brought swim shoes to cross the creek just below the log jam. With trekking poles this was not difficult. Not sure if I'd have kept my balance without the poles. The current wasn't that powerful where we crossed but with a heavy pack it could push you some. There is a lot of snow in camping area but a few spots can be found on both sides of the creek drainage. Hiking the side of the lake was mostly snow. Crampons/ice axe were helpful here. In a few of the spots without traction you could easily slide into the lake. In the morning this snow was solid. On the hike back it was softer and some post holing but nothing terrible. The gully from the lake to the snow mass was snow filled where the drainage is. It was better to stay in the snow with crampons/ax than hike in the scree/dirt. After getting up the gully it is all snow to the ridge crest. Lots of snow and we were able to just walk on top of it up and down. Crampons and axe are necessary to get to the ridge crest. We opted for the bump on the left side. This was completely snow and steep. Coming down you could glissade some parts. There was a group of 3 skiers and a snow boarder. From the ridge crest to the summit, snow can be avoided and there isn't much. Totally clear blue skies and warm. I'm not sure if it was below 40 the two nights we camped. I'm guessing in 2 to 3 weeks the camping area will be more significantly melted out. Pic 1 - where we crossed the creek below log jam. 
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Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2019-07-05, By: CUhikR
Info: Log jam is loose but passable. We were able to cross the logs only having to get into ankle deep water at the very end. The rest we were able to do dry. Trekking poles were quite helpful. Snow is still all around the lake but at least 10 campsites are dry. Snow was very soft & loose going up the gully from the lake. We made it 2/3 up to the steeper section and we're post holing frequently. Decided to turn back ~11,700'. Spoke to another group that made it up to 13,800 but had the same post holing issue right underneath the ridge. 
 
Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2019-07-01, By: carlycaprio
Info: We started the trail around 7pm. There was a group of 3 in the parking lot who had just finished and reassured us the log jam was passable. The trail is beautiful and free of snow until snow patches around 5.75 miles, we found camp around here about 9:30pm. The next morning started with high hopes when we arrived to the log jam. However, the water level was VERY high and seemed to have moved most of the logs out of place. It looks doable from one side of the pond. We made it about half way across the jam, adding logs when we could, but eventually came to a place where we found it to be unstable reckoning for a alpine bath. It could be passable if you're willing to get wet, but we didn't have back up clothes to take that option. Gators or a light weight floatation device would have served us well had we thought of that. It is passable as previous trip reports have said, just wasn't for us that day. Still incredibly beautiful and refreshing to be up in the crisp Aspen air. 
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Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2019-06-30, By: papaprazak
Info: Hiked in Friday 6/28. We brought waders to get across the creek near the log jam which worked remarkably well, we crossed just below the jam and water didn't get above mid thigh (I'm 6 feet). Saw three groups turn around at the log jam as it's still relatively impassable without getting wet. On the other side of the creek, snow was patchy to nearly constant once you got up at the lake, however there were two campsites that were completely snow free right at the lake. From there the route is entirely covered in snow up until the ridge. The ridge itself is entirely snow free so we opted to stick to that instead of trying to cross some patchy slush/snow that shifted easily (there was no freeze the night before). The ridge did require a few difficult class 3/easy class 4 moves with exposure but was feasible. 
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Route: East Slopes
Posted On: 2019-06-24, By: Bryan 1960
Info: I was planning to ski the snowfield the weekend of June 29, but hiked up Saturday 6/22 to recon the route (45 degrees, periodic rain on 6/22/19). IMO, the logjam is currently impassable, at least for me. The lake/pond/marsh is very swollen to the point that the logs in the logjam are buoyed and will move, shift and rotate under your weight. The high water level has reduced the stability of the logs to the point that I felt that trying to cross it was a poor decision. Others may deem the the risk acceptable, but in my view the mountain will still be there in a few weeks when the water is lower, the logs are stable and the temps are warmer. Other notes: 1. the avy debris paths others have mentioned have been cleaned up to the point that they no longer slow you down - other than to gawk at the enormous amount of energy released in these slides. 2. Snowmass creek is raging torrent. Really impressive and deafening when the trail gets close to it.. 3. From the view up bear creek at 4 miles it is amazing how much snow is still at the higher elevations. This leads me to believe that the logjam lake will remain swollen and the logs unstable for some time to come. 4. I started to encounter small snow deposits over the trail at about 5.75 miles, but nothing more than this up to the logjam at about 6.5 miles. 5. Very few tracks in the small snowfields leads me to think very few people have been up there this Spring. I doubt if anyone has summited from the East Slopes route since the very impressive guy on 4/21, when the logjam was likely frozen in place and stable. Bottom line here, at least for me, is that the logjam is unstable and represents a significant risk of taking a freezing bath. It seems likely to stay that way for quite awhile given the enormous amount of snow still on the peaks that drain into Snowmass Lake/Snowmass Creek. 
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