SNOWMASS MOUNTAIN      Scrolling Photos     Back


After racing a challenging 50K in Wyoming and an eight hour drive to reach the trailhead for Snowmass 
Mountain I arrived around midnight, finding a parking place right next to Dan Bornholdt, who had driven 
in earlier in the day from Los Angeles.  After sleeping for four or five hours in the car I arose to a friendly 
smile and warm handshake before shouldering my pack and beginning the 8.25-mile trek up the approach 
to Snowmass Mountain.  Dan and I had been talking about some quality time together exchanging stories 
around a campfire for years.  This would be our first adventure and campfire together.

My quads were hammered from the previous day's race, but any pain was quickly forgotten as Dan and I
had much to talk about.  The eight-mile hike to Snowmass Lake seemed to go quickly, arriving by mid-day
to set up camp and rest before making our ascent of the mountain the following morning.

After a restful, rain-free night we woke early to start the climb.  Trying to avoid wading through the
willows along the shoreline of the lake we took a high line around the lake before descending on the other
side to begin our climb up a talus and scree-strewn gully.  Three climbers were well above us and the weather
looked like it could be troublesome.  Dan was feeling the exertion and elevation and decided to return to 
camp when it looked like continued drizzle would hinder climbing probably all day.

I continued a direct line toward the ridge just to the left of the summit as the drizzle turned to corn snow.
Since there was no thunder or lightning apparent my only concern was traction on the slippery rocks.  The
higher reaches of the climb proved more difficult because of wet rocks and scree, but I finally hit the ridge
before circling around to summit in a thick fog and light snow storm.  Visibility was limited to about 40 yards,
but I was able to route-find coming back down through the basin by orienting with the sound of a strong
stream of meltwater to my left.

Before reaching the lake the drizzle had turned to a hard rain and soaked me thoroughly.  I had fallen quite 
a few times on the slippery rocks, but didn't sustain any blood injuries.  Reaching the willows the worst of 
the day's hike and climb would begin.  Every drop of rain held by the leafy willows attached itself to me,
drenching my clothing, pack, and filling my Gore Tex boots with sloshy water.  Hypothermia was taking
over so I kept moving toward camp where Dan had packed up and was preparing to return to the car.

After quickly packing my camping gear I headed out behind him to start a three-hour march to get back to
the car before I shivered myself sick.  The forced hike on muddy trails dampened our spirits enough that,
after drying off and slipping into some dry clothes and warm cars, we headed down to Glenwood Springs
to enjoy a warm meal before soaking for over two hours at the Hot Springs.  After getting thoroughly warm
we made a plan to sleep in the cars again before returning to town the next day to do laundry, after only
one day - one wet day - on our mountain climbing adventure.  Spirits improved, we both slept well - 
warm and dry.  Myself, I was content with my first summit, despite the circumstances, and enjoyed the
time with Dan immensely.