Summer of 14er Fever Part II: Snowmass & Huron

Posted on July 27, 2008

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So after a long day on Capitol Peak two weeks ago, I was hoping to take a weekend off to recover, but I got too bored too quick and drove down to Chafee County for a little hike up Mt. Huron. Picures are at the bottom of the page. Before I get to that, however, I would like to talk about my trip up to Snowmass Mountain for a Trip report on 14ers.com

Snowmass Mountain

My dad and I drove up to Crystal on Friday night in hopes of meeting up with a buddy of ours, but he wasn’t there. We were up at 6am after camping near the Mill and decided to drive up Lead King Basin from Crystal. This road was really, really rough and unmaintained for the most part, and culminated with a river crossing because the bridge is out for the season. The river crossing was also much deeper than expected, and is probably not crossable after noon because of high water (we crossed it at 7am and it was bumper high). We got on the trail at probably 7:20am, and knew we had to move because of the high chance of storms. The hike up to Geneva Lake, although beautiful, was uneventful and very straightforward.

Maroon Peaks from the Trail

My climbing partner on the trail near Geneva Lake

Geneva Lake

We were also greeted with a closer view of the task at hand

When we got towards the west end of the lake, there was a sign for campsite 4 with a cairn on top as well as the word “Snowmass” written in pen on top. I recommend following that trail instead of the one that wraps around Geneva Lake

After a pleasant view from Little Gem Lake and towards Lead King, we saw pretty quickly that the climb had not yet begun.

Little Gem Lake

Lead King

The Climb

As you can see the snow is entirely avoidable, so crampons and ice axes are not needed, unless you want to do the snow climb. We took Bill’s advice and headed straight for the high grassy patch, but what you should know is that the grassy patch exists because there is a lot of water in that spot, and the climbing was really, really slick. My advice (and how we down-climbed) is to go to the right of the patch (right when climbing, left when descending) and take the natural stairs that form near the waterfall.

Coming up the grassy patch

Instead, go up the “stairs” of rocks in the left of this picture (you can see them start at least)

After the grassy patch climb, we had little choice but to go up, up, and up some more. It is a lot like the Trough on Longs, except proabably 3 times longer. Lots of loose rock, but we were able to find plenty of stable rock as well. Climbing helmets are a good idea because of the loose rock, there was a man on the summit with a nice cut on the forehead who might agree with me.

Coming Up after grassy crux

Looking up with plenty more loose, class 3 scrambling.

At the top of the climb, we simply had to traverse just a small amount across the summit ridge with a few class 3 maneuvers. Lots of exposure on the left side, but when we arrived at the summit around noon the views made it all worth it.

Final ridge scramble with Capitol and Sopris in the background.

Summit shot

As one might imagine, the storm clouds above cleared everyone off the summit pretty quick, including us, so we barely had ten minutes to eat lunch, snap some pictures, and start downclimbing. We traversed back to where we reached the ridge, and the downclimbing was much more simple and easy compared to the ascent because the face is steep enough that we could see where the little switchbacks were for going down. Our total ascent time was just under 5 hours, and the descent time was just under 4 hours, which seems pretty average for this climb. On the way down, however, I decided I had enough time to take some picture of the massive columbine flowers below Geneva Lake. The wildflowers are absolutely gorgeous up there and I recommend going up to Geneva Lake just for the flowers if nothing else.

Columbine

Wildflowers and Waterfall

I will end this trip report with my favorite picture, the peak of Snowmass Mountain and the falls below Geneva lake. Keep reading if you would like to read about Mt. Huron, which we did the week before Snowmass. If you would like to see more pictures of Snowmass as well as some from Huron, Click Here

Snowmass and Geneva Falls

Mt. Huron

After a 15 hour day on Capitol, I was planning to take a weekend off before Snowmass, but got too bored and decided to climb Mt. Huron. Mt. Huron barely tips the 14er scale measuring in at 14,003 feet, and is only a 5.5 mile round trip hike from the trailhead after some 4WD fun. The trail is entirely snow free and very straightforward. Enjoy the pictures!

View of the Peak from treeline

Brown ribbon of trail before getting to the scree climb

Snow on side of Huron with Harvard and Columbia in the background

Summit Shot

The Three Apostles

For my Summer of 14er Fever 2008 Final Climbs, I’ll be doing La Plata, the Missouri Gulch Trio, maybe Harvard and Columbia, and the Blanca Peaks. Check back in a few weeks.

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