A lovely 8-mile approach hike, a campsite by a lake teeming with lunker trout, and a moderate ascent of a fetching Fourteener: What more could you want from a long weekend in the mountains? Less crowded camping would be one thing, and you can have that, too, if you like lots of snow. In June, the masses have yet to occupy the campsites at Snowmass Lake, and acres of the white stuff still span the east-facing basin between Snowmass Mountain and 13,841-foot Hagerman Peak. (Recent balmy summers have melted that huge snowfield by mid-July, leaving behind a mundane talus slog.)
In the morning, you’ll cast long shadows on pink snow as the rising sun lights your route—it’s like climbing a big glacier in the Alps without the crevasse danger. There’s no need for crampons or other technical climbing gear if you wait until the morning sun softens the snow. At the top, scramble a white granite ridge to the blocky peak. Now comes the best part: Ice axe at the ready, climb down the snow until you’re comfortable with the angle, sit on your butt (or stand if you’re skilled), and push off for the state’s best glissade. In good conditions, you can slide more than 1.5 miles and nearly 3,000 vertical feet. Hikers amped by this speedy schuss sometimes celebrate by diving into Snowmass Lake at the bottom.
-Text by Dougald MacDonald
-Mapped by Kim Phillips, Patsy Fellman, and Travis Beery