James Peak  
Condition Updates  
 
Route: Saint Mary’s Glacier
Posted On: 2020-09-14, By: sigepnader
Info: Totally dry and snow free on the trail. Started at 8 and summited at 11. The only snow that was left was in the wind shelter. That should be gone by tomorrow at this point. 
 
Route: Via St. Mary Glacier
Posted On: 2020-09-13, By: geg86
Info: Peak is in good condition after the storm. Some small snow patches are lingering but did not need traction 
 
Route: Superstar Couloir
Posted On: 2020-06-27, By: dweiss45
Info: Good conditions on the climb, a couple of moats are forming, but no rock steps yet. Top out was very soft at ~11. If you are debating bringing a rope and rack, only the upper quarter of the climb is really worth it to protect the move around the cornice and possibly the steep snow if you're worried; a set of nuts and maybe a snow picket or 2 for the belay, plus a #1 or 2 cam to protect the follower after you're on top (we topped out right side). Even then, if you've done something like Skywalker or Dragon Tail, you'll get by fine without the pro. 
3
 
Route: Straight up, main trail down
Posted On: 2020-06-12, By: RidgeWretch
Info: Two of us started from St. Mary's Glacier, one with microspikes and the other without, but in good boots with aggressive tread. Barely any slippage for the latter. Snowfield ended as we leveled off for the flat approach. Stuck to the 4-wheel drive path that veers west of the lone rock outcrop. This ended in a ‘T' with the other 4-wheel drive road (assuming these aren't ancient Segway tracks) that runs east-west through the middle of this plateau. The trails are not marked and we turned right (east) looking for one. Should've turned left. The main trail that skirts the west side slopes and bends to the summit can be picked up about 150 feet west of the ‘T'. Alas, we walked far to the east before intersecting another very old road that ended in snow at the bottom of the main slope. Further ahead, the huge cairn sat front and center at the edge of the snow. We, instead, opted to negotiate around the east side of the snowfield on tundra. It was closer and a nice challenge. Once we ran out of dry land, we traversed west a short distance to a set of tracks romping straight up to the bare talus. The windblown snow was packed and firm, only depressing about four inches when we ran on it. Only one of us was brilliant enough to run up the hill, not naming anyone. We popped over the two knobs en route the final slope where we caught up to the afore-mentioned main trail's zig-zags in the quarter mile. (This straight-on hike made for a windy but heart-pumping workout in the winter; highly recommend that approach during full-on snow conditions). Three summit shelters, two of them still with snow. Took the main trail back down. Never post-holed once, though saw a few where someone sank mid-calf. The glacier crowd was large and loud, surprising number of people for a pandemic group. Will look forward to tackling James from the north in the future, and maybe Parry-Bancroft from the other trailhead. The bridge of my nose recommends you bring sunscreen. 
3
 
Route: Shooting Star
Posted On: 2020-05-23, By: CreekRunner
Info: Couloir is fully in and is all consolidated snow (no ice). Definitely start early because there are heaps of rocks that fall at the top of the apron when the sun hits. Most notably are the two massive cornices hidden from view along the sides of the couloir. One is hanging precariously off a cliff. Just my 2 cents, but it might be good to wait until the cornice fails before attempting this. 
4
 
Route: St. Mary\'s Glacier
Posted On: 2020-05-22, By: ilikereds
Info: Parked at TH to St. Mary's Glacier and started out at 0600. Started hitting hard snow half way to the lake. Didnt see anyone until I was on the summit of James Pk. Very nice day with very little winds. Took traction with me but never used. I saw flotation tracks along the way but if you are starting early, they are just extra weight. Glissaded from summit...be mindful that the snow is melting during the day and freezing at night so the snow is hard on the behind! started seeing a lot of people at the lake on the way down. Back to the truck by 1000. 
 
Route: St Mary\'s Glacier
Posted On: 2020-03-29, By: 9patrickmurphy
Info: Skied James today. Very little soft snow left from Friday's dump, but they might get more tonight. No avy danger, everything was windpacked really well, which was my plan in waiting since the last fresh snow. Really windy, but no wind on the glacier, which seems the opposite from what people usually say about this climb. A couple of spots closer to the summit that I had to be careful at due to exposed rocks, but I kept my skis on except for a short walk at the lake near the bridge. Lots of double-poling on the flats, but nothing crazy and was never tempted to put skins back on or walk it, it's *mostly* downhill. Should've waxed. 
 
Route: St Mary\'s glacier
Posted On: 2020-02-29, By: bangerth
Info: 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. 
 
Route: St. Marys Glacier
Posted On: 2020-02-21, By: timewarp01
Info: Climbed James Peak via the Glacier route today with my friend Max. It was a really nice bluebird day that was actually less windy than we were anticipating. In the morning the glacier had pretty hard packed snow so we didn't need snowshoes until we crested the rise and made it a quarter of the way across the flats toward James. There was no wind until the top of the glacier, then a steady stream from the west the rest of the way with little or no gusting. The snowshoes stayed on all the way up; the summit block has plenty of scalloped drifts that are a couple of feet deep. Unfortunately there's won't be a track left; it was immediately being covered by the wind as we went. Along the way we met a really cool climber who showed us the Shooting Star couloir from the summit. John, if you see this, maybe you could speak to the conditions in the chute. Couldn't have asked for a better day out in February of all months! 
6 1
 
Route: via St Marys Glacier
Posted On: 2020-02-16, By: drop_bear
Info: Windy in the morning, calm in the afternoon. Packed trail to the lake. Mostly continuous firmish snow to the summit. Put snowshoes on at the glacier (mainly so I didn't get blown off into Kansas) and kept them on the remainder. One of the very few times I was glad I was wearing them. 1) Winds up the glacier 2) From near the summit looking back towards the glacier 3) Approaching the summit 4) James from summit of Kingston 
4 1
 
Route: East slopes
Posted On: 2019-12-20, By: wondering_hough
Info: There is an impressive avalanche (maybe within the past week) slide and debris field right above lake and towards the foot of the glacier. Completely sketched me out until I was half way up the glacier The winds stopped me short of James Pk but I did summit Kingston, a 12er, as a consolation prize. I used snowshoes from the the trailhead/all day 
1
 
Route: St. Marys Glacier
Posted On: 2019-12-10, By: TheAmateur
Info: Started late at around 12:00am, was hoping for clear skies for a moonlight hike back to the car, with moonrise starting at about 3:48pm, and sunset at 4:30pm. Was blue skies behind the whiteout conditions starting around the lake and glacier, which was very frustrating. Visibility was extremely variable because of the winds ranging from a calm breeze to gusts strong enough to push me, scraping the microspikes I was wearing down slopes of ice. Turned around at 11000ft, due to not feeling comfortable navigating the terrain in conditions almost impossible to see in. 
1
 
Route: SE Slopes from St. Mary\'s Snowfield
Posted On: 2019-11-14, By: durkan
Info: Seemed right on 13er Thursday to go for James. Started later than usual at 8:30am. Summited by 11:00am. Back at car by 1:30pm. Includes all breaks. Snow was avoidable in the "glacier" (snowfield) gulch by sticking on the north side of the gulch. There was a pretty prominent but loose path was there. Intermittent snowfields from top of the gulch to the SE slopes. From there, I followed the trail and cairns as much as possible to summit. Almost continuous snow on the trail from there to summit, but did not feel a need for traction. There were opportunities to glissade on the wind blown snow areas, and the gulch as well if you have a helmet and ice axe (there was ice in there so I decided to just hike down). All snow never went beyond the mid shin for me (when I did sink that is). I left snowshoes, crampons, helmet, and gaiters behind. Only used microspikes between trailhead and St. Mary's Lake. Could have been more helpful the whole time, but I did not see a need. Not a soul seen until the return trip down at the lake. 
 
Route: North Slopes from East Portal
Posted On: 2019-09-29, By: jfm3
Info: Trail was damp/muddy in spots between East Portal and Heart Lake. Some creek crossings are dry but others are still flowing. Dry from Heart Lake across Rogers Pass to the point where the trail crosses back over the Divide to the north slopes. 1-4 inches of early-season snow on the north slopes that was melting quickly below 12,500'. Didn't have microspikes but footing wasn't really an issue. Trees are finally turning colors in the Winter Park valley. Photos 1. North slopes from Rogers Pass 2. Bottom of the north slopes 3. Winter Park from the summit 4. South view from the summit 5. Descending the north slopes 
5
 
Route: Standard
Posted On: 2019-07-01, By: pthomps17
Info: Very close to full summer conditions. Microspikes still recommended for ascending the glacier as it hasn't melted out enough to walk on the trail. Glacier was about half the size when I was there in 2017 as it is now, which is great! Above the glacier, full summer conditions on the standard route with the exception of one 100-yard snow crossing at about 12,750 feet (you'll still posthole here so be prepared for that). Great conditions up there! Get there early to avoid massive crowds on the glacier on your descent. 
2
 
Route: Shooting Star
Posted On: 2019-05-28, By: dubsho3000
Info: Shooting Star Couloir has a large cornice covering the climber's right-hand exit, but an easy snow exit to the left-hand side is available. Snow was soft at 7am, but supported us up the couloir and we didn't have significant rockfall - saw one at the Y of Superstar and Shooting Star but otherwise none in the couloir itself. We heard some in the area. Summited at 9:30. Superstar's cornice was even larger, but a snow slope to the right of the area typically holding snow seemed to provide a viable exit. May need rock protection if you go that route. 
2
 
Route: St Mary\'s Glacier
Posted On: 2019-04-28, By: salmanalsaif
Info: I recommend starting as early as possible before the snow starts to melt/soften, by which time traction will be useless and you'll need snowshoes (I didn't bring mine and lost my microspikes on the way back, was too lazy to take them off, found one but couldn't find the other). Strong winds on the way up the snow field by the glacier (forecast said 30mph+50mph gusts, which was accurate). Tough but very doable in my opinion. The wind eased up throughout the day, wasn't bad near the summit. Route finding and navigation can be hard in the clouds, but got easier as they cleared up. Cairns in the final mile helped (don't target them willy-nilly if the slope isn't safe, they'll still be useful landmarks at the very least). Did not have any problems on the way back. Watch out for cornices and potential avalanche slopes (near the glacier, final mile near the summit, and especially the summit, don't go peaking over the edge). Not too concerning overall. Still working my way back from injuries so took me 5 hours to summit. If anyone finds a single XL microspike, let me know  
 
Route: St Marys to SE slopes
Posted On: 2019-04-15, By: easyridertme
Info: Snow coverage from TH to the lake is still okay but looks like it's melting quickly. We were still able to skin, but you'll probably need to boot for a short distance around the lake to get to the glorified snowfield. Faced a stiff 20+mph headwind climbing the snowfield, but the wind surprisingly tapered off a bit during the flats, only to pick up with a vengeance as we approached the summit. As of Sunday, you could still pick your way across the flats on skins, but that'll likely be a boot soon too without more snow. Skiing down the SE slopes would have been wonderful but it was overcast and chilly, so the top layer never quite softened up. We were stuck with varying degrees of very hard crust/ice with the occasional shallow (2-4 inches), grabby wind slab... not to mention super flat light. St Marys itself had softened by 2ish and was nice skiing. 1st pic - snow blowing down during the climb up from the lake. 2nd pic - summit. where'd the clear skies go?? 
2
 
Route: SE Face
Posted On: 2019-04-07, By: mbnat
Info: Skied the SE Face of James Peak via St. Mary's Glacier. This route is about 99% skiable currently from the summit to the trailhead. On the way up, I only had to boot up the last ~50-100 ft. to the summit as my skins didn't stick to the hard ice, but my partner was able to keep the skins on. We kept skis on for the entire descent except right at the lake, we couldn't find a way through on continuous snow (but didn't look that hard). The morning was very windy but plenty of sunshine. We timed the descent perfectly, leaving the summit at around 1:00pm (for the day we went). It took a while to soften, but by the early afternoon the upper slopes were just starting to soften up and the lower slopes weren't too slushy yet. The upper slopes were decently fun - the steeper sections were nice but the flatter sections were annoying hard sastrugi. The flats in between James and St. Mary were skiable on continuous snow by staying skiers left, and cutting right just before the beginning of the glacier. Probably some other paths through on snow too, there's a good bit of snow still. The ski down St. Mary's was fantastic! We saw lots of people out on the glacier enjoying a beautiful afternoon. The trail/road down to the trailhead from the lake was still snow covered and a fun ski, but it's melting fast and more rocks were poking through in the afternoon compared to the morning. With caution, it can be comfortably skied all the way to the paved road. 
9 1
 
Route: South Slopes
Posted On: 2019-04-01, By: TheRealRooster
Info: Good coverage the whole way to the summit. You could literally skin all the way from the parking lot. The slightly steeper parts up high were dust on bulletproof ice, which made skinning difficult at times. The skiing was pretty nice, but the new snow hid plenty of sharks... 

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