Memorial Day Weekend – The Official Summer Kickoff
Someone needs to let Snowmass Lake know it’s Memorial Day weekend and not midwinter. It’s still totally frozen up there. Christy, Josh Hirshberg and I headed that way last Saturday for a few days. Getting up the 8 mile trail is adventure enough for most. We had two peaks to ski– Snowmass Mountain and Hagerman Peak.
Christy was happy that what in the past was a mandatory waist deep water crossing, was buried in snow from winter avalanches.
Near this same date back in 2002 I camped here on bare ground. Josh probed 6 feet of snow all around. Good thing we weren’t here for fishing.
By 6 am the next morning we were out of camp and skinning across the frozen lake and up the snowfield.
Seeking out a direct line up the east face of Snowmass we gained the ridge too early and had some traversing/climbing on the south side to reach the summit.
We’re finally up top.
Christy drops in. The east bowl of Snowmass is known for its mellow angles when compared to other Elk range 14ers, that is unless you ski the direct east line off its summit where there is a bit of 50+ deg. turns before you get down to the ‘easy’ stuff.
Josh, taking a more aggresive approach to the steep entrance.
Christy skiing back down towards Snowmass Lake. We eventually traversed south(right) to reach a big couloir that took us up towards Hagerman Peak(13,841 ft.) and our second peak attempt of the day.
Christy takes the lead kicking steps up the couloir. Its north aspect combined with the winter conditions had us in new powder all the way up.
We reached the couloirs’ top at 13,500 ft., a few hundred feet shy of the summit. We looked for the ‘easy’ way up, traversing a bit south to the SE ridge and began up the very steep snow. I found this part to be of comparable angles to the steepest parts of the Pyramid Peak ski route, and for a longer period of time, which was unexpected.
More shots of the Hagerman climb, the left shot shows the 13,500 ft. saddle.
That’s me on easier ground, right below the summit.
We skied the more comfortably angled snow of the south side, a route that Christy and I had climbed back in the summer of 2003. The west side of the Maroon Bells and Pyramid Peak are in the distance and Trail Rider Pass, the saddle directly above Josh in the photo, was our return route to Snowmass Lake.
Josh again. The south line drops 1500 veritcal feet. This peak is pretty far removed from easy access and has a popular 14er neighbor which leaves Hagerman often overlooked.
We managed to traverse east towards Trail Rider Pass, hiking a very short way before we could ski down this very popular hiking route back to camp. It was really fun.
Christy makes the final turns down towards Snowmass Lake. Unlike last weeks debacle on Rio Grande Pyramid, we built in an extra night here at the lake and didn’t have to rush back down the 8 miles to the truck tonight. It was much more civilized to have a relaxing afternoon and a second night at the lake.
The next morning we skied 4 miles out of camp, crossing the logjam with ease and making the trip back to the trailhead in just over three hours( it was 6+ hours on the way up)
In sum, we climbed Snowmass first, then Hagerman, skiing back over Trailrider Pass and back to camp.
Another good weekend.
Next weekend could be even better. The road to Maroon Lake and ‘The Bells’ opens later this week.
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