Instead of the usual glorious image to spark the idea of this trip it was just a place with numerous 14ers and cheap air fare. We bought the tickets before even deciding what to go for (mind you as usual I had many scatter brained ideas as to where we would head). After presenting many options to my husband and trying to induce an opinion he finally said he would rather do a long one then a few quickies. The rest he left up to me. That settled it. We were going to Snowmass.
After dropping the kids at the grandparents, driving 5 hours to Boston, catching a 5:00am flight, stopping in Dallas and arriving in Denver we grabbed our rental and head towards Snowmass. With a quick stop at REI for some helmet rentals because who wants to try to fit those in an all ready bursting checked bag? After some stops for food we arrived at the trail head for the Eastern route up Snowmass that evening. Oh look at the beautiful peaks! That's nice I could look at them all...wow this Jeep is so roomy......zzzzzzz. Next morning,thanks to the time change, I was up with the sun. We head out onto the trail after a brief chat with a guy who warned us of heavy bear concentrations in the area. The trail was great, beautiful birch grew everywhere. Everything was green and blooming. We made fairly good time though our packs where murderously heavy since we wanted to stay a few nights at the lake and expected coldish nights. We only saw 4 other people on the trail, only one of which was headed to Snowmass.Trees were down over the trail quite frequently. We started encountering snow after the beaver pond and it was post hole city once we passed the couple of switchbacks after the beaver pond. Great! We reached the lake finally, tired with wet cold feet. But all that was forgotten when we finally caught sight of the beautiful lake and mountain that were in front of us. Trout were jumping and snapping at bugs all over the lake and were only mildly disturbed when we got close. It really is an amazing place! We set up camp quickly, grabbed a bit of food and went to bed.
On the trail
Porcupine on the trail
We got up in the dark, had coffee (it was gross gross coffee) and strawberry oatmeal (it was gross gross oatmeal). We had slept in our cloths for the day so that was nice to not have to change in the chilly night air. We left around 4:30am. We headed out to go around the lake and after about 10 minutes were required to put on crampons so we didn't skitter down the steep bank of snow into the lake. The snow was in good form so we were pleased.
We got to the bottom of the scree, man pictures don't do it justice. We made our way painstakingly up it at first sticking to the rocks but after about half way moving onto a vein of snow to the left because the rocks were loose and falling away from us as we tried to move up them. We started to worry as we neared the top and the snow got softer.
We got started to wards the ridge from the left of the snowmass, the snow seemed a bit better there.
We met the other guy that had come that day. He had bad news. He had left earlier and reached the ridge at around 7:45am and was sinking in to his waist the whole way up and was post holing on the summit. We thanked him and said we were going up but might not go for the top if conditions were that bad. It was then and there we decided that if the snow was consistently bad in a section we would turn around. It was 9:00am. We kept to the left and approached the ridge in a hurry because of our worries. Just below the slope up to the ridge the snow got really bad. We were all ready sinking in a few inches with each step but there my husband sunk to his waist, tried to pull himself out and his whole body started sinking. He moved away from there but we called it at that point. It was 10:00am.
We turned and did some glissading in some parts and some walking in others. The sun was hot and we were stripped down to our long underwear shirts before we were back to the scree. We took our time, enjoying the views and overall beauty and of course oohing and ahhing at the Bells.
The slope around the lake was ridiculous!!! Our post holing was made interesting by sometimes only sinking a few inches, sometimes to a knee, sometimes to your waist! What fun!! After getting down we hung up our wet clothing. We had some food and settled in for a sweet sweet after climb nap...that lasted 3 hours. Then we got up for a few hours and slept the rest of the night. The hike out went easier since we had lovely tracks to follow through the snow thanks to ourselves! Overall it was an absolutely great time! The beauty of the area and the enjoyment of the climb really makes not getting to the summit no big deal. After all, we can always go back....
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