Peak(s):  Snowmass Mountain  -  14,092 feet
"North Snowmass" - 14,020 feet
Capitol Peak  -  14,130 feet
Date Posted:  09/27/2010
Modified:  02/08/2012
Date Climbed:   09/26/2010
Author:  oldschool
 Capitol to Snowmass Traverse Day 2  

On Sept 11, 2010 a group of 4 (Kiefer, Noah, Steve, and myself) started the Cap to Snowmass traverse. See TR's for a complete report of Day 1. There are 2 TR's for that day, one by Noah and one my myself. This TR is about Day 2, as we had to go back and finish it. Unfortunately, Kiefer, who was with us for Day 1 was not able to come with us for Day 2. We missed you Kiefer!

I drove up to Lead King Basin on Saturday. Nice day, bit of a rough road up to the trailhead.
Lead King Basin
I was by myself as Noah and Steve were coming from the big city and would arrive later. Got to campsite 5 on Geneva Lake by 5pm or so and set up camp and waited for the other guys.
Camp #5 at Geneva Lake
They showed up around 8pm or so and got set up and we all hit the bags for a 5:00am wake up!

Alarm went off and so did we. We had a rack of rock gear, about 6 cams up to a #3 Camalot, a full set of nuts, runners, long slings, quickdraws, and Steve and Noah brought climbing shoes for the harder pitches. Noah had a chalk bag too! We left camp at 5:30 am and headed for Siberia Lake.
Siberia Lake
We made it in an hour and headed up the talus to the exact spot we had left off on Day 1.
Heading for the spot we left off at on 9/11
Where we left off on Day 1
We got the top of the ridge at about 8:30 and put on our harnesses right away as we knew we were in for technical climbing right away.
Getting racked up and ready! We had snow to deal with once we got to Snowmass, as you can see in the background.
We stuck to the ridge, using ropes and setting gear to protect as best we could the traversing nature of this section of the route. Scary stuff....very loose slabs, rocks simply piled up waiting to be knocked over, poor pro, but good belays. The solid belays are SO needed to try to protect a fall...but this is the epitome of NO FALLS! It took us a LONG time to get through his part....the "Scary Gendarmes" section.
The "Scary Gendarems" section. We had to find our way through this very technical and dangerous part.

We had 3 guys and 2 ropes, swapping leads between Noah and I but Steve did take some leads! We found our way through all the gendarmes, through "Satan's Door", and on towards Snowmass.
Satan's Door
Land of endless gendarmes.....tread lightly!
The meanest part of Satan's Ridge
Looking back on the ridge....

The following pitches were loose, sloping, poor pro, dangerous, loose (did I say that already?) poor pro, dangerous......a repeat of the last pitch! Long run-out's between pieces, none of them very solid, but good solid belays. Noah had a slabby, friction pitch with a few pieces of pro, only the first one good. I had a traversing pitch that had a very high "pucker factor"...bad pieces with long run-out between them. We took our time, focused, and were paying major attention to all placements of feet, hands, and pro, when we were able to get it in. On the North Ridge of Snowmass, after the "Scary Gendarmes" we ran across an old piton from the 50's I believe.
Old piton from the 50's. Biner did get flipped before Steve took off!

Once past the gendarmes and the summit of North Snowmass we made good time.
Mike on summit of North Snowmass
We were able to un-rope and hike together. We were all thinking we would be descending in the dark but got to the top of Snowmass pretty quick. We had a scary snowny section up to Snowmass that had me way gripped! Not a good place to slip and fall.
The snowy ascent to Snowmass...had to be very careful!
I took no pictures going up to through the snow to the summit ridge of Snowmass..way too slippery with the snow.

We got to the summit of Snowmass about 5 pm or so....all high-fived each other (actually we did that on top of North Snowmass too) and it looked like we would not have to descend in the dark.
Almost to the summit of Snowmass
On the summit of Snowmass! WE DID IT!

We got down to Geneva Lake by going down the West face..loose and none too fun. We made it from the summit of Snowmass to the lake in just about 2 hrs....we were tired but still had the adrenaline going from our day. We packed up and headed for the parking lot. We made it down in about 50 minutes.

So.....what can I say? When we did the first 3/4th's or so of the traverse 2 weeks ago I thought...WOW! crazy stuff! We spent 12 hrs going about 3/4's of the way across. On Day 2 we spent about 9 hrs doing just 1/4th of the route! The second day was WAY harder than the first. The rope work, the tremendous attention to every foot and hand placement, the lack of pro yet trying to make it safe.....a very intense day.

This is a dangerous, loose, run-out ridge.....5.7R/X. The "gendarmes" section is beyond anything I had done before. Although I have done more technical climbs, nothing even compares to the danger and fatal fall potentials of this section....actually the entire Satan's Ridge is that way. A fall on this section would have long swings, rocks falling, bad, bad news!

I am glad I did it....glad I had good partners, good weather, good commitment from all....but also glad it's over and I don't have to go back! We made some history the way I understand the history of this ridge...a good side note as far as I'm concerned......but I am most happy to see my vision, my plans, and my energy (and the energy and commitment of my partner's too) carry me through this project. I climb for adventures...found one on Satan's Ridge for sure....and now time for new projects......stay tuned!

I would like to thank the 14er's community for your support and words of enthusiasm for this climb.


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

 Comments or Questions

09/27/2010 23:32
I hope you flipped your biner on that one!

Congratulations on finishing your route. You guys are bold.
Get on some meds, quickly!


Biner did get flipped!
09/27/2010 23:46
As I sat on the belay I saw the biner loaded on the gate and did flip it before Steve went up!


I brought commitment, but not much else!!
09/28/2010 00:18
The biner error was mine as was an improper belay at the top of the same pitch. This was the 2nd to last pitch and my weaknesses were showing. I held my own on the chossy loose crap that the 13ers teach you, and can carry a rope, but I was dependent on Mike and Noah to take all the hard leads and double check all my technical decisions. I did get all the nuts out even after losing the nut tool!

Summit Lounger

Was it fun?
09/28/2010 00:35
Congratulations on an awesome route. Way to stick it out. Was there some fun involved, or was it too loose and scary?


09/28/2010 01:44
I had fun, but it wasn't the type of fun you have at an amusement park! I like challenges, I like to be so focused on something that it takes over my brain for a bit, and it is fun to me. That said, it wasn't fun enough to go back. I consider all of us very lucky, and our experience plays into this, that we didn't get hurt...or worse.


09/28/2010 02:03
good write up Mike. Nice to read it in some one else's words.

My TR is also up. Just posted it a couple minutes ago. It goes a bit more in depth on the technical sections for those of you that wonder how amazing it was.

Fun? I would say doing it and routefinding and finding your way around with just your skills was fun..but 90% of it ranged from scary-very scary. I'll never ever go back there. It's flat out dangerous.


Wow ...
09/28/2010 14:26
Nice write-up and photos! Way to get 'er done you guys! Thanks for posting. Happy trails!


Thanks bjohnson17
09/28/2010 19:56
Thanks for the way a route like this goes and goes safely without awesome partners and commitment.


2nd to last
06/02/2011 14:57
Hey Mike,

I really enjoyed the 2nd to last paragraph in your report about your ”vision, plans, and energy and commitment of your partners...” Congrats on getting this done to all of you.

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