The SnowCap Loop

Snowmass Mountain and Capitol Peak Combination

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My Brother (Jason Friesema) and I are attempting to finish climbing Colorado's Fourteeners this summer. We decided to attempt to do Snowmass Mountain and Capital Peak in the same weekend by doing a loop hike. Unfortunately there was no information available on how to do these as a loop. We did as much as research as we could before heading out. The two big questions were Heckert Pass and the Wandering Dutchmen Couloir. I was able to find a few people who had done Wandering Dutchmen Couloir and said it was class 3 scrambling at worst. Heckert Pass however remained a mystery. I was only able to find one online report about someone who had been over it, but he never responded to my e-mails. So all I knew was he had been able to find a "reasonable route", whatever that means.

Well we mapped it out and planned on doing the route this summer (2008). By doing Snowmass Mountain first we were able to answer the question about Heckert pass before being too committed. The route turned out to be 27 miles long (only 6 miles longer than Snowmass by itself) and had 10,573 feet of vertical gain. Just over 2 vertical miles. We were able to keep all but the Capitol Peak ridge to class 3 or easier, so this is a doable trip for most. We planned a 3 day trip in hopes this would be plenty. It turned out to be more than enough, but only because the weather cooperated so well. The route was long and required a lot of time in crampons with ice axe in hand. I think the trip would be significantly harder though once the snow routes melt out.

Below is the summary information about the trip as well as photo journals of each of the three days. I hope you enjoy them all. Please let me know if you have any questions.

The route:

Click map for larger version. (It's big so be patient.)

Elevation Profile:

Trailhead Info:

The trailhead for this route is quite simple. If driving from the West. Take Highway 82 from Glenwood Springs heading Southwest. In the town of Snowmass turn right onto Snowmass Creek Road. Follow this road to it's end at the Snowmass Creek Falls Ranch.

If coming from the East take Highway 82 East from Aspen. Drive 9.1 miles from the Roundabout on the East end of town and turn left onto Watson Divide Rd. Follow Watson Divide Road until it ends at Snowmass Creek Road. Turn left and follow Snowmass Creek Road to it's end.

Parking is just outside the Snowmass Creek Falls Ranch. There is a sign marking where the trail begins. All overnight stays require a free permit that may be obtained from a box at the trailhead.

The Pictures and Trip Reports:

Day 1

Snowmass Village Trailhead
Snowmass Lake
Snowmass Mountain
Base of Heckert Pass

Day 2

Heckert Pass
Pierre Lakes Basin
Wandering Dutchmen Couloir
Knife Edge Ridge
Moon Lake

Day 3

West Snowmass Creek
Snowmass Creek Crossing

You are welcome to contact me with any questions regarding questions about, or problems with, this website. Just send me an e-mail at