Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Snowmass Mountain

Psalm 51:7 says, "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow."

If you have ever been on a wide open snowfield on a sunny day...you know how blinding it can be. The snow is so white, it shouldn't even be described as white. The color should be called "bright." The entire area lights up and is so radiant...it hurts to even look at it without shades. There is no place for light to escape and it reflects right back up...Without shade or darkness, light becomes "bright"...

Jesus came to wash us of darkness...to cleanse us of any shadows in our lives...so we can go in front of God brighter than snow. Because of Jesus, we are now more clean and pure than snow. God now sees no blemishes, no darkness, no shadows in us...I can't wrap my brain around this. But I am glad I don't have to...Thank you Jesus for making God have to wear heavenly shades to look at me! Thank you!
Snowmass Mountain 14,092'
Who: Brad Hardin "Brother in Law" and me
When: 9/18-9/20
mileage: 21.5 miles
elevation gain: 5,800'
Brad and I decided to climb Snowmass after coming down from 4 Pass Loop...so after getting rest at a local Snowmass village hotel and eating several hardboiled egg whites for breakfast, we started making our way up Snowmass standard route. The hike was great…the Aspens started to turn, the smell of pine is second to none, and all the waterfalls along the way just kept making this trail super.
The elevation gain from TH to Lake is a little over 2500 ft, but it is gradual for the most part outside of two sections...at first there is a 400' ascent...and along the way (mile 4) you get your first views of Snowmass Mountain (which is the furthest peak in picture below)...from our vantage point, this mountain looked like it was approximately forever miles away.
after the first 400' climb, the trail opened up and we were hiking along Snowmass Creek.
We followed the creek all the way up to the infamous log jam. We had to cross the log jam to get back on the trail...the log jam...that thing is absolutely a blast to cross...when dry. It sucks big time when there's frost on it. It's about 75 yds long...it is really easy if you have decent balance. It's really hard on frost, even if you have great balance.
We stopped here to eat lunch...we knew we still had a second section of steep uphill hiking. As we got going, the colors around the lake were beautiful...however, there was a flower that stunk horribly. We could not really identify the flower...
We also met a porcupine on the way up…I think he liked us, because he made another visit later on…Anyways, after the log jam and the hike around the first lake, the trail went up...it was a section of switchbacks that lead right into pines. About half an hour later, we saw this great waterfall...
…we finally arrived at Snowmass Lake and you are met with absolutely the most gorgeous alpine lake…and right smack in the middle is the masterpiece known as Snowmass Mountain!!! I’m not even going to describe…it’s a waste of time…go see it yourself.
We set up camp and enjoyed the rest of the day…about that friend of ours, Brad woke me up around midnight. He said he heard some munching going on near the foot of our fly…sure enough; it was our friend chewing on some gear…he was harmless and went on his way.
So earlier that day, we hung out and rested...we also decided to hike around to the West side of Snowmass Lake to mess around and check out the route for the next day. Brad also got to get a little fishin in!
Monday 09/19/11
Climb Snowmass Mountain, Eastside
Camp Start on East Side of lake: 6:10 a.m.
Summit time: 12:15 p.m.
Back down to camp: 3:15 p.m.
Difficulty: Strenuous…like your leg twitching when your done Strenuous.
Alf Rating: I don’t recommend it to everyone…only for those that are a glutton for punishment and would do anything to summit a mountain.

We got up early and started making our way towards the base of the scree field via the southern edge of the lake. The trail is awful…the willows will smack you in the face…seriously. The approach to the base is no fun, unless you enjoy bushwacking and getting your boots dunked in mucky water. Once you make your way around, finding the trail can be tricky…I did a poor job of studying this portion of the route. Took it for granted really…I could not find it to save my life. So I continued all the way around the lake edge and found what I thought was the trail up to the gully. On the descent, I found the right trail…it follows the gully on the left side all the way down to the boulder field on the left of the gully (if you are looking at it from the base of the route). If you find the right trail up, you will avoid going up the loose rotten gully…
This is Brad above the scree field, around 11,000'...Right above 11,000 ft, we started to enter the snowfield. From this point on, we just started to make our slow and steady ascent all the way up.
Over the next hour, the snow got deeper…at times we were post holing 18 inches deep…which left my legs bruised all over.
At 11:45 am, we were 800 ft below the summit and studying the sky. The clouds had moved in and this was really the first legit time we questioned are goal for the summit. Brad suggested we scratch the original plan of climbing to the lowest part of the ridge, that would have put us a 1/3 of a mile from the summit, and instead go directly towards the notch (opening) of the mountain. I had my doubts since the snow was still powdery, but it really felt like our only shot at the time. So our plan was to take one step at a time and see if we still had it in us to go up.
Without fail, we made the notch by traversing the base of the 300 ft East Face of Snowmass over to the notch…at this point we were excited and knew we were going to Summit.
Once we reached the backside of the ridge, we scrambled/climbed up the ridge some 300ft and met our goal at 12:15 p.m.
I looked around and was in awe of all the snowcapped mountains…the Bells, Capitol, the lakes…man…God is good. I said a prayer of thanks and joy…stayed up there for about 15 minutes before my toes started to give to the freeze. And then…realization set in… oh crap, I’ve got to get down this!
Tuesday 09/20/11
Left camp: 5:10 a.m.
Time back to TH: 3:15 minutes
Alf Rating: In the dark…kinda scary…especially when you see bear scat, one of them being fresh. Log Jam had frost…
TH: So glad to see it!
Reward: 5 days in the Maroon Bell Wilderness is reward enough…a summit of a 14er…and a really cold bottle of Double Wheat Shiner to greet me hello...and one more look at those trees!

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