Jeff Warner PHOTOGRAPHIC, Golden, Colorado, USA

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mt. Sniktau, CO Winter Ascent (13,219')

Severe high pressure over Colorado for the last few days has given way to some bluebird skies following the abundant winter storms in recent weeks. While Heidi took the boys to A-Basin to ski today, I thought I'd take advantage of the relatively warm temperatures (34 degrees on Loveland Pass, 11,990') to go out in winds that I typically wouldn't. I had a tailwind going upward to gain the ridgeline, at which point I took a break in a windshelter (see video) and changed from a softshell to my hooded GoreTex. From Point 12,915 I had to turn NNE into the wind, which was probably 35 sustained, with gusts well over 50, I'd guess. The sastrugi formations were amazing, and the climb up to Sniktau was beautiful in a hellish sort of way. It wasn't so easy to take pictures in conditions like this, but I tried!

On the way down, the winds on the unnamed peak at 13,120' must have gotten over 60, as I had to drop to my knees to avoid being taken somewhere I didn't want to go. It was blowing so hard, my goggles were actually vibrating! I only saw 3 people the whole time, which is very unusual for this relatively popular winter route; wind forecast must have kept people off the ridgelines.

An epic little hike today, enjoy a few pics and videos from the calm and warmth of your home or office. If you want to see a few more still images from this winter ascent of Mt. Sniktau, CO, please check out the link.

Mt. Sniktau from Pt. 13,120

Some of the cool sastrugi formations; this one looked like a wave in more ways than one!

These are clearly tracks from something, but I have no idea what. They were about 3" wide. Does some joker make dog-booties that have weird prints on the bottom? LOL Very strange.


I finally dumped the Tamrac Photo Trekker backpack in favor of F-Stop Gear's new Tilopa BC photo backpack. Such a great pack for carrying photo gear!
Here's what can happen when you get too close to the edge of a cornice: somebody strayed a bit too close to the edge, and found some snow that wouldn't support his/her weight. The problem is that you have no idea what is below! Firm snow 10' deep to rock? Foot dangling through the cornice? I prefer the route near the rocks to the right, personally...

After summiting, returning toward Pt. 13,120' where the winds were nastiest (see video of blowing snow below).

At 2:20 PM was perhaps the biggest gust of the day, likely well over 60 MPH. Note how the edges of my jacket are blurred from the high-frequency flapping in the wind!

More sastrugi; this piece had to be hanging 24" out, supported by practically nothing.

Almost back to the car, the winds finally eased up after I descended off the ridgeline.

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