Ascent of Hagerman Peak on 2020-08-22

Climber: Bo Saunders

Others in Party:Robert Woodrow Bushnell
Date:Saturday, August 22, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Hagerman Peak
    Elevation:13841 ft / 4218 m

Ascent Trip Report

Day 1 (11.58 miles; ~3,387 vert; Time: 6:01)
Climbed Hagerman and Snowmass as part of the Four Pass Loop, which Woody and I hiked starting Friday Aug 21, 2020 and finishing Monday Aug 24, 2020. We started on the CB side and came in from the East Fork of West Maroon TH, which is just over Schofield Pass from CB. We drove down late Thursday and started early Friday. The West Maroon Pass Trail from the TH is great - the whole basin is beautiful. After a little over an hour we linked up with the loop and made our way towards Frigid Air Pass. We topped out at the pass in just over 2 hours of total hike time, and then began our descent into Fravert Basin. It was a long hike thru Fravert Basin but it didn't take too long. There are tons of great camp spots along throughout. About an hour from the top of Frigid Air Pass, the trail forked and we stayed right onto the 1976 trail to head up towards Trail Rider Pass. This is where the hike got challenging. It's a STEEP hike up from the valley floor to get to the lake below Trail Rider Pass. With a heavy pack, my hip flexers are typically in for a rough time, and this was brutally painful. In fact, I can't remember the last time I struggled that bad on any hike - with or without the heavy pack. Side note: as the days went by on this hike I kept wondering what caused the hip flexors to start feeling better. In the end I decided it was 20% lighter load, 35% advil, 15% legs adjusting/warming up, and 30% trekking poles. Anyway, we assumed the maps were correct and there would be streams along the trail up to the pass but the higher we got the less water we saw. I was mildly concerned that that lake that appeared on the map would be dry and we'd have to struggle over trail rider and down to Snowmass Lake ahead of schedule, skipping Hagerman. Luckily that wasn't the case and the lake was full and delicious. We filled our water and found a great camp site, albeit full of ants, and relaxed in the shade for rest of the afternoon. We had some black velvet on hand to really enjoy the afternoon. The weather was perfect and even tho the wild fires were affecting air quality and visibility around the state, we had some great views of the surrounding valleys and peaks. We could even see the Bells in the distance to the East. I think I cooked up a breakfast when we got to camp a little after 1pm. Technically I considered this my lunch. I think it was some kind of delicious mountain house egg and bacon combo. A bit later, I took a very rewarding shit down the hillside below our camp. Then I made one of mountain house's premium meals - chili mac - for dinner. Great stuff. We turned in early and with some whiskey and half a zanax in my system, I slept great.
Day 2 (6.88 miles; ~3,220 vert; Time: 5:44)
We started around 7:30am again and even tho we weren't quite sure where the trail was for Hagerman, I had downloaded the GPS route onto my Gaia app so we were able to find it fairly easily. The trail takes you up thru a small canyon that narrows before opening up in front of a huge rock pile. The obvious route is to stay to the left and climb up a grassy slope with plenty of running water. Then the route opens up to the gullies that lead to the ridge between Hagerman and Snowmass Peak. There were a series of semi-cliffy sections that were kind of fun. Plenty of ways up them, just had to pick a line and go for it. It doesn't even feel like you're truly in one of the gullies until you get a lot higher up and I looked at my GPS at that point and realized we were already a good portion of the way up. The rock was really loose and it was super steep. Not a lot of fun. You couldn't really trust any rock to hold. The route on climb13ers said if you're a veteran of the Elks you'll find the rock stable, but an Elks rookie would find it really loose. I don't consider myself a rookie, but I did not see any way that anyone could consider the rock stable. Luckily we were the only ones up there (altho I did see a guy on the grassy slope portion when we were coming down later but I think he either turned around or was coming from somewhere else) - so we didn't have to worry about anyone but ourselves. The route description says to stay in the center of the gully but we found ourselves pushing left, more directly towards the summit. We knocked a few rocks around and as we got close to the ridge, the gully narrowed, which forced us back to the right for the path of least resistance. Eventually we made the ridge and it was a quick shuffle over to the summit. Views were a little hazy, but we got a good sneak preview of the route up Snowmass Mountain on the other side of the ridge. The section we viewed looked relatively flat from where we sat - which wasn't entirely inaccurate. But the steep rocky part was hidden from view below and to our right. Anyway, we hung out on the summit for maybe 15-20 mins and then decided to head down. The descent was complicated by the loose rock - especially that steep sections of the gully higher up. We had to move pretty slowly. At one point, as I was going down a cliffy section further down, I stepped onto an almost too perfect foothold and it went. Only thing that kept me from going with it was a good left hand hold. Pretty scary, altho I wouldn't have tumbled super far and probably would've lived to tell about it. We eventually made it back down to camp in a little less than two hours for the descent. Took us almost an hour to pack up and start off for the top of Trail Rider Pass. Luckily the remaining hike up to the pass was pretty short and not too tough. That was literally the only portion of the hike on Day 2 that was uphill with a heavy pack so it was good for my leg recovery. We weren't expecting the hike down to Snowmass Lake on the other side of the pass to be as long as it was, but it took about an hour. Great views of the lake on the way down tho. We rolled up to the lake a little after 2pm and were able to find a great camp spot - which was good because it got crowded as the day went on. The lake was awesome and it was nice to have something cold to swim in. I think Woody took two dips; I did a nice slow cold soak to try and help my weary muscles. There were some dudes fishing and some stoned girls cackling and we got to relax and really get a good look at the route up Snowmass Mountain. Spent a lot of time looking at the rocky steep section. It looked a lot worse than it turned out to be, but there's not doubt it's steep. Our campsite was great because it had a huge log in the sun to set your stuff out to dry. I made myself another mountain house breakfast for lunch - egg skillet I think. For dinner I had a risotto from that Maine company (Good To-Go) that I'm not a huge fan of. Just not very satisfying meals after a tough day. I had a spaghetti and meatballs mountain house dinner available but I knew the next day was going to be a tougher hike, so I decided to save it as my reward. We had some more pulls off the whiskey and I got another solid night's sleep.
Day 3 (12.06 miles; ~4,835 vert; Time: 9:11)
We got started around 7am for the hike up Snowmass Mountain. We later learned we stayed we too close to the edge of the lake - which resulted in us walking thru some really muddy wet sections that were practically in the water. Randomly passed some dude camped in the willows on the far side of the lake - he seemed to be Australian maybe? Anyway, we set off up the rocky steep section and yes it is steep - but only extreme steep in small sections. We found out on the way down that there are dirt paths to the right in the grassy/bushy green areas. But we never ventured over there and just stayed in the rocks the whole way up. The route says to cross over the gully near the top, and I think we waited longer to do this, but it didn't really matter. It took about an hour to get to 12,250 feet. It definitely flattens out the higher you get but we kept waiting for the steepness to end and flatness to begin and it never really did. But the hiking did gradually ease and eventually we were breezing across a much flatter rocky section - altho still gaining. We stayed way right. At first I thought this was the best approach and Woody was leading us over that way, but he kept staying right and got us off course a bit. Had a chance to use our spikes and the poles at one point to cross some snow as we got higher up. The "bump" described in the 14ers route was just above us and we cut across under it and ascended around to the left side of it. The ridge was pretty spicy - at least for the beginning portion - as I wasn't completely sure we were on route and whether to stay high or break off to a lower section. We found coming back down it much easier. Anyway, we were on the ridge by the 2.5 hour mark and on the summit at almost 3 hours exactly. We chatted with some other climbers on the summit - one of whom got naked and is in our photos. Stayed up there about 30 mins and happened to be heading down along with two other groups who we ended up sticking close to the whole way down. I never really got anyone's name but they were all having a lively conversation about porn, butt sex, and sloths. It was fun. There was a couple, and I got the guy's name but I forget it now. There was also a group of 4 (3 of which I ran into on Kit Carson Avenue two weeks later - named Heather, Brandon, and Patrick). Thanks in part to linking up with them and partly because we could see the path much easier going down, we took a much more direct route down the ridge (we stayed a lot higher for most of it) and off the ridge into the flatter portion of the hike. From the summit, it took a little less than 1.5 hours to get back to the "top" of the steep rocky gully at 12,100 feet. I say "top" because there wasn't really a top where the grade dramatically changes. We used the dirt paths a lot more on the way down, which were kind of hidden in the grass and bushes on the left. Finally arrived back at camp around 1pm. We still had a lot of work to do as we were just finishing the climb right around the time we'd been pulling into our campsite for the night the last two days. We hustled to get moving. I'd barely eaten anything. It took us almost 2 hours to make our way to the top of Buckskin Pass. It wasn't a crazy tough hike, but it took some time. My legs were feeling alright as I'd kept myself on a strict regimen of advil - two every morning when I woke up and two every night before turning in. This was definitely our biggest day and the original plan was to hike all the way over to the West Maroon Campsites between the Bells and Thunder Pyramid. But we decided we weren't going to go for Thunder Pyramid so there wasn't much point in pushing to get all the way over there. Given that we'd had a couple great campsites at lakes the last two nights, we decided to camp at Crater Lake. It also saved our legs a bit of work. Crater Lake isn't very pretty. There was a bunch of tree fall from what looked like an avalanche. The trees were all bunched up at the north end of the lake and the water level was super low so the lake kind of petered out and it was brownish colored. Not what I expected for one of the most photographed spots in Colorado. We rolled up near the lake and found camp just shy of 5pm. The signs say to only camp in designated sites. We found what we thought was a designated site not too far from the lake - it was a cleared out small area with fallen trees around it. Not super spacious or particularly easy on the eye and since it was late in the day there wasn't really a good place to set our stuff out to dry in the sun, but going further south from the lake, there was a clearing and the campsites looked pretty far from the water. We found out the next day that the designated sites we actually WAY south of the lake. In fact, I'd guess we went a half mile and probably way more and continued to see designated Crater Lake sites. I was glad we set up where we did. I ended up eating two meals. Back-to-back. I figured I'd worked hard as fuck for a few days so why not pig out. I cooked up a bibimbap from Good To-Go, which again, wasn't all that satisfying. I wasn't super stoked about it because it had all kinds of spices that my stomach wasn't accustomed to - another reason I don't dig their meals. Ended up being fine. Then I cooked up my spaghetti and meatballs - delicious. I was uncomfortably full. There were a few people around, some ducks on the lake. Some dudes showing off by hitting rocks into the lake with sticks - blissfully unaware of the ducks. There were some rocks set up in a circle by the water. We sat around there and finished off our whiskey in front of the majestic Bells. The lake water was pretty filthy. Tons of bugs in it and duck shit. It was also super shallow and hard to scoop up into our filters. We finally went to bed and it ended up being the worst night of sleep I'd had the whole trip. We thought it might storm as there was some drizzle and strong winds as it was getting dark, but it held off. There were a lot of bats flying around overhead. I think it was around midnight when the porcupine made its first appearance. We'd heard something moving around near our site off an on after it got dark, but wasn't able to figure out what it was. But this damn porcupine got super close to my bivy and was chomping on some branches. We turned the lights on it and made a bunch of noise but this fucker wasn't phased. He was also making all these soft whimpering noises - it's possible he was having sex with another 'pine back there. He was only maybe 5 feet from my bivy behind a large fallen tree trunk. Eventually he went away and I got some sleep but he came back around 4 or 5am. He did some more chomping and ended up walking right past my head. I froze, not wanting to catch any quills to the face. Woody must've woken up right as it rambled by his head because he was startled. I flipped on my headlamp just in time to see its big ass flopping over the log at the edge of our camp. So that made for an interesting and unusual night. But yeah, definitely my worst night of sleep.
Day 4 (8.60 miles; ~2,388 vert; Time: 3:41)
I don't remember exactly when we woke up, but I feel like it was pretty early. A critter of some sort had chewed my under armour beanie at the edges because it had fallen on the ground in the wind. But other than that, we came away from that unusual night pretty clean. I opted not to make breakfast - even though I had a biscuits and gravy mountain house. I knew the hike out wasn't going to be super long and didn't want to have to take another shit because I knew it was gonna be a really really tough one considering I'd been backed up a couple of days. So we set off at 7:15am. The Nat Geo map says it was 4.5 miles from Crater Lake to West Maroon Pass. We made it to the pass in about 2 hours and 15 mins. It wasn't a super tough hike. It was just a steady climb most of the way. We ended up passing some people who we had crossed paths with on our night at Snowmass Lake. There was a group of dudes who were in a campsite just behind and above us - like 5 of them - that were getting into the lake when I was soaking. They seemed alright. Can't recall what music they had been playing at the campsite, but I wasn't into it. Anyway, we passed them. I don't think Woody recognized them. We also pass a couple as we were making our final push up to West Maroon Pass. They had been in the lake when I was soaking but hadn't really gotten in. I exchanged a few comments with them here and there as we were right next to each other. I actually stopped the girl and said "oh hey I think you were soaking in the lake when I was there a couple nights ago." They seemed to not really remember me. Once we were up and over the pass, it didn't take long to get to the exit point from the loop - just over 20 mins. We passed a group of ladies day hiking who asked me some questions and I felt pretty accomplished telling them what we had done. It took almost 1 hour on the nose to get back to the car after we had left the loop. We passed a huge group of Eastern Europeans who didn't look super prepared for the rigors of a long trip and one of the guys was asking me if we climbed any of the 14ers. When I finally took my boots and socks off, my feet were a real mess. We headed back into CB. Woody's mom didn't know where he was and had freaked out when she hadn't heard from him by Monday. She actually drove up to Frisco and got his landlord to let her into his apartment and she noticed his backpacking stuff was gone. She also called my office and left me a voicemail. I'll have to make sure he submits his whereabouts to his mother before future trips like this. We hit up The Last Steep for an insane amount of food. We ate onion rings, a big plate of chicken tenders, and each crushed a burger. Throw in a couple of frosty brews for each of us, and it was what we'd been dreaming of the last couple of days. I took one of the toughest shits of my life in their bathroom, and had to plunge the toilet for like 10 mins. Best backpacking trip I've done, hands down.
Day 1
Start: 7:37am
Loop junction: 8:59am
Frigid Air Pass: 9:43am
1976 Trail junction: 10:48am
Geneva Lake/Trail Rider Pass juntion: 11:49am
Lake below Trail Rider Pass: 1:13pm
Day 2
Start: 7:32am
Summit Hagerman: 9:37am
Depart Hagerman Summit: 9:54am
Back at Camp: 11:44am
Depart Camp: 12:38pm
Trail Rider Pass: 1:07pm
Snowmass Lake Camp: 2:11pm
Day 3
Start: 6:59am
Top of Gully @ 12,250 feet: 8:05am
Ridge: 9:35am
Summit Snowmass: 10:00am
Depart Snowmass Summit: 10:28am
Top of Gully @ 12,100 feet: 11:52am
Back at Camp: 12:59pm
Depart Camp: 1:38pm
Buckskin Pass: 3:28pm
Buckskin Pass/Willow Lake junction: 3:52pm
Crater Lake Camp: 4:50pm
Day 4
Start: 7:15am
West Maroon Pass: 9:33am
Junction to exit Loop: 9:56am
Finish: 10:57am
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:13958 ft / 4254 m
    Total Elevation Loss:13958 ft / 4253 m
    Round-Trip Distance:41.3 mi / 66.5 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Great weather, other than the haze in the distance from wildfire smoke.
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:13958 ft / 4254 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 3441 ft / 1049 m; Extra: 10517 ft / 3205m
    Loss on way in:10517 ft / 3205 m
    Distance:13.4 mi / 21.6 km
    Route:Four Pass Loop
    Start Trailhead:East Fork of West Maroon TH  10400 ft / 3169 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3441 ft / 1048 m
    Distance:27.9 mi / 44.9 km
    Route:Four Pass Loop
    End Trailhead:East Fork of West Maroon TH  10400 ft / 3169 m
Ascent Part of Trip: Four Pass Loop (4 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Hagerman Peak2020-08-2213958 ft / 4254 m
2Snowmass Mountain2020-08-23 
Total Trip Gain: 13958 ft / 4254 m    Total Trip Loss: 13958 ft / 4254 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Bo Saunders
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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