photo-The south face of Hagerman Peak. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015.
-Ascent/Descent Route: south face
Members of Group: Joel Paula, Otina Fox, Max Dynafit and Zach Taylor
Hagerman is a centennial 13er that sits next to Snowmass Mountain above Geneva Basin in the Elk range. It is a typical peak of the Elk range in many ways; steep, loose, high... It is somewhat difficult to get to in spring and is not often skied but it has some really classic looking descents on it's south face. Joel and I have been working on climbing all of Colorado's centennials and Otina is working on climbing all of Colorado's 13ers. This is a mountain that is meant to be climbed in snow.
Joel, Otina, and I had climbed and skied the west face of Snowmass the day prior and were camped at Geneva lake the evening of the 18th with plans to climb and ski Hagerman the next day. We were exhausted from the Snowmass climb and descent and all of us were passed out by 8pm.
We awoke several hours before dawn the next day and began skinning towards Hagerman. In order to get to the base of the south face you have to cross the creek that empties into Geneva Lake just above the lake. We did not find a good place to skin across and ended up taking off boots and planks in order to wade across the creek. The water temperature was hovering around 0.5 to 1 degree Celcius. In that dark spring morning the cold water was both painful and invigorating. We regrouped on the other side and began skinning east to a small saddle at treeline that crosses below the south face of Hagerman to the south. As we topped the saddle, the sun began to shine a little and we could see Hagerman's south face. We cut north and hiked/skinned to the base of the south face.
The early morning sun made for some nice pictures of the Elk range. We stopped for some food and water before beginning the snow climb.
photo- Otina enjoying the sunrise below the south face of Hagerman peak. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015.
photo- Joel Paula and Max Dynafit below the south face of Hagerman peak. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015.
photo- The Elk range. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015.
A large part of the face had avalanched recently and we climbed through hard, convoluted bed surface for pretty much the entire climb. It was good snow for cramponing but not so good for skiing. Fortunately, we noticed the looker's right couloir on the south face had not slid out and we decided to ski that after reaching the summit. The views of the Elk Range during the climb were awesome and the snow stayed hard for most of the climb so our timing seemed pretty good.
photo - Joel Paula climbing the south face of Hagarman. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015
The views from the summit were awesome and our timing was just about perfect. The snow was just starting to soften. We basked in the sun and views for a few minutes before we began planning our descent.
The was a narrow strip of steepish snow above rocks that dropped off the summit on the south face and traversed the face to skier's left, appearing to give access to our couloir.
photo- Zach Taylor on the summit of Hagarman peak. Photo by Joel Paula, 2015
I dropped first descending down the steep snow strip towards our couloir. I got to some rocks and stopped to take pictures of Joel and Otina skiing the traverse.
photo - Otina skiing off the summit of Hagarman. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015
We regrouped on the other side of the traverse. It looked like we had 20' or so of loose rock to down scramble and then we were in our couloir. Otina removed her planks, I one footed over the rocks and Joel opted to downhill ski class 3 scree/talus......
photo - Joel Paula skiing rock on Hagarman peak photo by Zach Taylor, 2015.
We dropped in one at a time skiing perfect corn snow down the low 40 degree couloir. What great turns!
photo - Otina skiing the south face of Hagarman peak. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015
photo - Zach Taylor descending the south face of Hagarman peak. photo by Otina Fox, 2015.
We ripped corn turns all the way down to where snow petered out. Then we shouldered our planks and hiked back across to the saddle where we skied/rode down to Geneva Lake. We again waded across the creek and marsh above the lake to get back to camp. In the afternoon sun and warmth the creek felt refreshingly cool on our sore feet and we enjoyed the cold water.
photo - the south face of Hagarman peak. photo by Zach Taylor 2015
photo - Joel Paula skiing out the basin below the south face of Hagarman peak. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015.
photo - Geneva Lake. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015
We packed up camp pretty quickly and shouldered heavy packs for the walk out. It was a beautiful hike out with blue skies, lots of green, and flowers beginning to bloom. Spring is in full swing!
Joel and I sped up a bit past Otina and were enjoying the hike out when we heard her yelling for help behind us. We ran back up the trail and found her sitting on the trail grimacing.
Otina said she had been walking quickly trying to keep up with us and then twisted her foot and felt pain go running through it. I let her sit there for a few minutes before doing anything (for ankle injuries always give a few minutes to let pain die down before assessing the injury as nothing with someone's ankle will kill them and your patient will thank you for not causing unneeded pain in a rush to see the injury).
After a few minutes, I pulled her shoe off and looked at her ankle. It had begun to swell. I palpated all around and Otina said that her pain did not increase with palpation but did increase with ambulation. This pointed more towards a ligament injury and not a fracture (turned out unfortunately when she went to the doctor later that she did have a small fracture of a non weight bearing bone in her ankle). We put her foot in the cold stream next to the trail while Joel ran his pack down to the car and then returned to carry Otina's pack. I taped Otina's ankle and supported her on the trail and across the creek while Joel carried her pack out. Fortunately we were able to get out without additional help.
photo - Joel Paula and Max the dog walking out below Geneva Lake. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015
photo - Waterfalls draining out from below Geneva Lake. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015.
photo - Zach Taylor walking out from below Geneva Lake. photo by Joel Paula, 2015
All in all it was an excellent ski/snowboard descent besides Otina's mishap at the end. Hagarman is rarely climbed and even less frequently skied due to the mileage and terrain one must cover in order to access the area. However the ski terrain, views, and remote wilderness setting make this a classic for those willing to put in the effort.....
photo - Treasure Mountain viewed from the Geneva Lake trail. photo by Zach Taylor, 2015.