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Following the failed attempted of Wetterhorn, I spent much more time preparing for Snowmass Mountain and the more information I dug up on the route, the more uneasy I was about going.
Last year a 14ers.com member passed away when a rock slide occurred on the very same route. It was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but none the less the dangers of rock slides are real, especially during heavy rainfall, or snowmelt.
Snowmass Mtn gets its name from the bowl of snow that accumulates on its east face. It is the 31st highest mountain in Colorado at 14,092 ft, and the 4th highest in the Elk range. The whole Elk Range was inhabited by the Ute Indians and they called the mountain Cold Women since it was believed that the mountain brought on bad weather. The Utes now primary live in Utah and Colorado. Intresting enough, my high school mascot was called a Utes, however I'm sure it has Irish origins instead of Ute Indians.
Last year, the mass of snow on the bowl was still melting well into August. This year, the snow melted by late June, but the monsoon season has brought heavy rainfall to the area.
With that in mind, I read many warnings about boulder sized rocks that were just loose and ready to go if you nudged it the right way. Every thought about summiting Snowmass kept me very reserved about going. Of course, danger is always part of the game, otherwise it wouldn’t be as fun.
I planned to drive out of Grand Junction at 6pm, Friday night and camp out at the trail head for a 3am start.
Unfortunately, work called in and I had to perform a soil nail test in Telluride, about 3 hours the opposite direction of where we were heading. My day started at 4am, out to Telluride and back into Grand Junction at 4pm where I took a short nap and off we were to camp out at Snowmass Mtn.
It was a pretty easy drive out to Carbondale, but the 13.8 mile 4x4 trail beginning in the middle of the night at 930 was a whole other story and adventure on its own.
The 4x4 trail sign reads 4x4 access only, but neglects to mention that the trail runs up the side of sharp hills with very narrow roads and very….VERY sudden drops.That means long wheel base need not apply. (you can click the photos for the full size 3+MB ones)