Snowmass Mtn, May 29th 2000, J. Cavner, S. Bremner, S. Wolfdog
After climbing Pyramid in the morning we next drove to the Snowmass Creek trailhead. Without enough daylight to complete the 21 mile round trip that afternoon, we assembled our gear for a short backpack trip a ways up the trail. Nearly two miles and near to where those aiming for Capitol Peak cross Snowmass Creek we stopped for the night. Jonathan got in his bivy and almost immediately departed for dreamland. I set up my tent and cooked up some couscous. Thunder showers sent me into the tent around 7:30 P.M. and I too went to sleep early. Later that night I awoke to more severe thunder and lightning and much rain.
Hagerman Peak from the top of Snowmass
Steve, Jonathan, and Sam on Snowmass
The next morning up at 5 A.M. we were running up the mild trail before 6. I say mild, because with its gradual rise the trail gained altitude slowly. After six miles we came to the crux of the approach--the crossing of Snowmass Creek. We had two choices--either thread our way across a log jam or wade the creek. I immediately chose the latter option--Jonathan at first thought he would attempt the log jam, but quickly realized he would end up in the drink anyway, so he followed me across the raging stream. I reached just below hip level--Jonathan who is not as long-legged as I went a little deeper.

Ascending the trail to Snowmass Lake we began encountering snow on the trail, though not terribly bad. We were clad in running shoes and running shorts--the minimum necessary. We passed several parties laden with heavy backpacks, obviously in for "the duration", a long backpack into the base camp and then the ascent with all the requisite gear, etc. Etc. Our philosophy was "travel light, move fast, enjoy more".

Snowmass Lake was snowfilled. We proceeded around its east side then began the ascent to the basin below Snowmass. Snowmass Peak (not to be confused with Snowmass Mountain) dominated the view from Snowmass Lake. Later as we climbed into the basin we saw that it was not nearly as high as Hagerman Peak to its right, and of course Snowmass Mtn further right along the ridge.

In the basin we espied four climbers who had nearly reached the final ridge. Though they were far above us I asked Jonathan, "think we can catch them?" And as on Pyramid, the push was on once again. We didn't catch them before they reached the summit, but we were close! Sam the wolfdog had only one difficulty on the class 3 climb on the final ridge to the summit.

There was a lot of snow on Snowmass (hence its name I suppose), but we didn't glissade down on account of the limited protection to our backsides--with only running shorts I had learned my lesson on a previous climb in which I wound up with open wounds on my buttocks that scabbed up painfully for weeks afterwards. Running down mountain and down trail we arrived at the trailhead after around eight hours total time.

After driving back over Independence Pass we opted to stay in a motel in Buena Vista Monday night. We cleaned up, bought some beer and wine and food for the evening and relaxed, the next morning rejuvenated for a quick dash up Yale.

Steve running down Snowmass snowfields
View towards Clark from Snowmass summit