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The Four Pass Loop
What I wish to do in this page is simply bring the reader on a picture tour of the Four Pass Loop, as completed by my wife and I last summer. We hiked it clockwise, which is opposite to how most people do it, but to us it seemed the sensible way to complete the trek. Please enjoy!
The trip got out to a rocky start...
Here we are, ready to head into the unknown...
After hiking in to Crater Lake in an unforeseen downpour, we were forced to pitch our tent in the semi-dark and wait out several thunderstorms overnight...welcome to Colorado!
But the next morning showed promise!
Sunny morning the next day!
Heading up the valley towards the first pass: West Maroon Pass
The view of those beautiful Bells from below
Approaching West Maroon Pass from below.
Looking north from atop the pass. The red rock is beautiful!
Once we got through the first pass, rain started to rear its ugly head...
Looking down between West Maroon and Frigid Air passes
Between passes...rain's a'comin!
These two shots show how fast the clouds were moving over the mountains.
No rain/lightning/thunder/wind but still scary and dark!
Near the top of the pass it started sprinkling
The top of Frigid Air Pass.
Some flowers atop a rock. From here we descended and found a soggy campsite...
We scrambled down from the pass and found a campsite as quickly as we could, above a large waterfall.
The next morning was beautiful, and we headed for Trail Rider Pass.
The next morning (thank God) was beautiful
An apparently unnamed waterfall that we camped about 1/4 mile above.
A nice view of the valley we were ascending to the pass
The trails in this area are slightly confusing, and this sign was a pleasant reminder.
Finally, after a long morning of climbing, we got a glimpse of the pass
I have to admit: this climb almost did us in!
Looking south from the top of Trail Rider Pass
Snowmass Lake from the pass, our intended campsite for the night
The upper reaches of the Snowmass basin.
From there, we descended to our beautiful campsite for the night on the shores of Snowmass Lake
Snowmass Mountain + Lake
Taken from near our campsite. Beautiful!
Day IV and Victory
The next morning, we decided to wake up early and hit the trail by 6am. We were treated with an amazing sunrise over the lake/peaks...
From there, we climbed to our final pass: Buckskin Pass
Climbing to the pass, looking back to Snowmass Mountain
Victory #4 part II
The Bells from the Pass
Pyramid Peak from the Pass
The way down, back to the trailhead.
The pass itself was actually blocked with a huge cornice.
Buckskin Benchmark from the pass...
Looking back up towards the pass
Please feel free to see my album of far more photos from our epic trip, as well as a more general trip report of the trip as a whole.
After three high passes with a heavy pack, I bet you would have floated to the top of Snowmass, but then having to shoulder that pack and hike over one more pass would have been some kind of brutal...tough call.
My brother and I did this loop, the same we you did it, a few years back. Beautiful scenery, probably the best I have ever been in. And I remember climbing Trail Rider and how long of a slog that was. Glad you enjoyed it!
yeah, we have been saying that maybe we should have saved that trip after all because it's going to be tough to beat the scenery!
i am sure there are plenty of little secrets waiting to be discovered all over the place :D
it was worth the trip indeed! i had heard it was "crowded" before we went, but we saw far fewer people than we expected, and the scenery was eye-poppingly gorgeous the whole time we were there.
go: you won't regret it!
I am looking into making this trek Mid March, do you have any idea what condition the trails would be in? Also, although I have a military background and don't mind long hikes, what recommendations or preparations would you recommend as this is my first official hiking/camping trip. Thanks for any help and insight you might be able to give!
i have not been here (or anywhere in colorado) in mid-march, but i can only guess that there will be a LOT of snow on all of the trails, and that the passes will be completely (and dangerously) blocked by snow. i cannot say that i would endorse it, but i am not any type of expert on winter travel in the mountains and i would say that you should start a thread on the forums to see what people with more experience might have to say.
Fantastic photos. I'm planning on this hike the week of labor day 2011. Everyone that I know that has done this hike, has done it in the direction that you did and so will I. I hope that some of my photos will be as wonderful as yours.
"We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence..."