September 1993 my dad, Bob and his hiking partners Jack Swenson, Lance Zong and Tom Reibli attempted to do Snowmass Mtn. After there first day over the Frigid Air Pass it had snowed a foot on them over night. They could not continue or hike back over the pass, so the had to hike around the mountains back to there vehicle. The failior of this trip set up this chance for me to attempt Snowmass a year later. The next year Jack got a blood clot in his leg and had to forfit going. Jack had been snowed out of this area 2 times never being able to hike Snowmass Mtn. This whole trip was put togather by Jack and he was not able to do it.
Being From Flagstaff, AZ we did not want to drive all the way into Snowmass Village to take the short approach to Snowmass Mtn. We made a 5-day backpacking trip out of it; climbing over four, 12,000 foot passes. To get to the trailhead we came in through Crested Butte, over Schofield Pass.
We started up East Fork and headed up Frigid Air Pass. From the top of Frigid Air Pass we had a wonderful and rare view of South Maroon Peak. We headed down and set up camp for the night.
We got on the trail about 9:00 and had to put our water shoes on. We crossed North Fork and the water was about knee deep. Crossing streams in the morning is not fun. It's too cold. Once we reached the other side we put our hiking boots on and headed up Trail Rider Pass this was the most difficult day. We rarely got a break from the constant ascent. Once on top it started to snow a little. We quickly put on our rain clothes and headed down towards Snowmass Lake.
Finally the day has come to ascend Snowmass Mtn. We headed out early around Snowmass lake and finally up its steep slopes. By the time we reached the snowfield we saw some guys coming down the mountain. They told us they were from England. They pointed to a notch in the mountain and told us to go up that way. So we put on our crampons and headed up the Snowfield. Once we reached the notch, Tom somehow pushed himself up the icy notch and pulled the rest of us up on top of the ridge. The other side of the mountain was fun scrambling. My brother being only 13, had a hard time getting over the boulders. My dad had to pull him up most of them. Once on top the view was incredible. Not a sign of civilization.
On our way down we found a different way onto the snowfeild and avoided a lot of it. Once back at camp we felt that wonderful sense of accomplishment.
The next day we headed out up Buckskin Pass Just on the other side of the lake we noticed that the signs were pointing the wrong way. This was a little confusing at first. We had to pull the topo maps out and figure out where to go. Along our way we came across wild strawberries. That was quite a treat. The trail was not quite as difficult at Frigid Air Pass. When we dropped over the pass and came to Crater Lake I could not believe the beauty of the Maroon Bells. This had to be the prettiest place I've been in Colorado. Finding camp was not easy since the creek would go underground, but we managed to find a wonderful camping spot.
The last day in a wonderful Wilderness area. We headed up the overly crowded West Maroon Pass. That was the highest of the 4 passes we hiked over, but the easiest. When we reached the top we were the only ones there, but by the time we left there were about 20 People. There was one person from Texas talking on a cell phone and everybody was leaning on our packs. We did not waist too much time getting out of there. We found a quite place and sat and enjoyed the sun for a while, then headed back to the vehicle. We have finally came to the end of a wonder trip through a beautiful wilderness area and on our way to hike Snefffels on our way back to Flagstaff.
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