Mt Sopris

14 Jul 2000 - by Jen Sajbel

Made rendezvous arrangements with Mary G. from Fort Collins CMC and my friend Shawn from Edwards to meet at TH some time between 6:30 - 7:00 a.m. on 7/14. This turned into a one day hike instead of a camping adventure due to co-hiker availability. In the future, I would recommend a two-day trip with camping as this was really a grunt hike for one day.

Other than the usual maps, used the "Aspen and Central Colorado TRAILS, A Hiking Guide, " 1999 2nd Edition by Warren Ohlrich. I stayed overnight in Snowmass Village (East of TH) and took one set of directions, Mary and Shawn came from the Glenwood Springs (West of TH) direction and took the other. Mary camped out near the TH, tentless under a pretty full moon, with no problems. Other than minor mileage differences, the directions to TH from both sides were great. All roads were easily driven by two-wheel drive cars, even Road 311 to the TH.

A group of very friendly horses wanted to be even friendlier with our backpacks and cars but we got out of there and left them to their own resources at about 6:50 a.m. The hike is advertised as 12 miles RT, 8-10 hours. TH elevation 8,640.

Signed off in the book and off we went up into the woods and meadows of the lower trail to Thomas Lakes (10,260). The trail, an old overgrown jeep road, was very evident all the way to Thomas Lakes and the designated camping sites. No significant wind, lots of sun and few clouds in the immediate vicinity until later in the day.

The second 3 miles got us out of the trees and up into the rocks, still on an evident trail most of the time, with some cairns. Beautiful views of Capitol and other peaks, as well as the Snowmass Monastery tucked into the valley. We went up over the subpeak, which was the only way to go without getting cliffed out, then on to the summit ridge. This is included in the directions. Summited Summit #1 (to the East, the one with the register) at about 12:30 p.m. I dedicated my climb to my friend Emil who died on Kit Carson last year, July 16.

Weather still looked great so we decided to head for Summit #2, allegedly exactly the same height. After a drop of 300' (per book) we headed up the summit ridge and rocks. No register but we found the high point and cairn. Small snow ledges helped us on the way up and down the second summit, walking close in to the rocks for stability, and staying away from obvious cornices. Did not use an ice axe, the snow was soft enough to step into and stayed away from high angle sections. Traveled to Summit #2 from about 12:55 to 1:40 p.m., stayed on top for a short time. I do not know the distance between summits or mileage added onto the trip.

Note: Needed LOTS of water on this trip, it's very dry up there with no sources of water past the lakes. Also, it was a very warm day. We pumped water through my filter at the first Thomas Lake both on the way up and on the way down. The second Thomas Lake looked more full of algae and not as good of a water source. I had two quarts with me but could have used more (the Camel would have been sufficient with the extra pumping).

The trip down took a solid 5 hours, with adjustment and refreshment stops. We were all pretty pooped so slowed the pace down a bit with stops as needed. At this point, getting toward tree line, we could see the weather building in the surrounding mountains. We got down below tree line and were pumping water at the Lakes when the rain started to threaten. During our trek through the lower meadows, we saw lightning ahead and behind us about 1-1.5 miles, close enough for discomfort. Decided to push on and get on more rain gear; fortunately the rain and lightning abated. Someone moved the parking lot on us, it was certainly much further on the way down. The friendly horses were somewhere out of the rain and my car survived the encounter.

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