Late April, Early May?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
Forum rules
  • This is a mountaineering forum, so please keep your posts on-topic. Posts do not all have to be related to the 14ers but should at least be mountaineering-related.
  • Personal attacks and confrontational behavior will result in removal from the forum at the discretion of the administrators.
  • Do not use this forum to advertise, sell photos or other products or promote a commercial website.
  • Troll posts will be removed.
For more details, please see the Terms of Use you agreed to when joining the forum.
User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 2264
Joined: 6/14/2010
Trip Reports (9)
 

Re: Late April, Early May?

Post by Dave B »

k_fergie wrote: Mon Nov 07, 2022 1:12 pm I'm personally hoping for a heavy snow year like 18/19, it was a record breaker.
Cross them fingers extra hard, cuz the triple dip la nina is gonna pry 'em back apart.
Make wilderness less accessible.
User avatar
jfm3
Posts: 219
Joined: 8/2/2016
14ers: 56 
13ers: 16
Trip Reports (8)
 
Contact:

Re: Late April, Early May?

Post by jfm3 »

This website has records of El Niño and La Niña weather events.
https://ggweather.com/enso/oni.htm

Disclaimer: I'm a cross-country skier, so I ski at lower elevations than the downhill resorts. One of the lowest cross-country areas in Colorado is at ~6500' in Steamboat, most are at 8500'-9500' (Snow Mountain Ranch, Eldora, Devil's Thumb, Frisco, Breck, Crested Butte, Aspen, etc.) and Grand Mesa is the highest at ~10,300'. I've lived in Colorado for 10 years and in every one of the La Niña years indicated the snow situation for the cross-country areas has been way worse than the El Niño years.

2011-2012: I was a senior in high school in Casper, Wyoming. Deepest snow I've ever seen there. By the beginning of March the cross-country trails at 7800' on Casper Mountain had an 8-foot base. Yes, really. Moderate La Niña that year, but Wyoming seems to be the south/north dividing line for snow.

2012-2013: Neither weather pattern. Very thin snow all across Colorado. I was on rock skis at Eldora well into January.

2013-2014: Neither weather pattern. Good snow in Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.

2014-2015: El Niño. Good snow (record-breaking in Boulder in February) but it was warm in January that season.

2015-2016: El Niño. Great snow in Wyoming, Colorado and Montana. Earliest I've ever skied in Colorado (mid-November).

2016-2017: La Niña. God-awful snow. Terrible conditions well into December. I think it got good in March, but I had a heart arrhythmia and my season was done by then.

2017-2018: La Niña. Even worse than last year. Nothing is more soul-sucking than doing running intervals on dry dirt in the dark in the middle of December. No significant accumulation until the Saturday before Christmas, when half the state got stuck on I-70 as it snowed 2 feet and the tunnel lost power. I was in Wyoming so I watched all that on the webcams. I went up the south side of Mt. Meeker the first weekend of June in 2018 and it was bone dry all the way up.

2018-2019: El Niño. Much better snow earlier in the season. Epic snow in March and April. Ran Pawnee-Buchanan Pass Loop in the middle of July and was convinced I was going to be out there forever, wallowing through nuts-deep snow miles from anywhere.

2019-2020: El Niño. Good snow the whole season, but all the ski areas closed in March because of the pandemic. Skied on the cross-country trails at 7800' in Casper the first weekend of May.

2020-2021: La Niña. Good snow in Montana and Idaho, but nothing in Colorado until late December. Mind-blowing conditions in April. Some of the best snow I've ever skied in my life anywhere.

2021-2022: La Niña. Worst start to a winter I've ever experienced. Skied 1 day in November and rollerskied on December 20. Skied 10 days on 3 kilometers of terrible snow in Casper. Almost punted on the entire season because training was miserable and skiing was impossible until early January. Latest Eldora opening I've ever experienced. But, then the snow finally arrived. Skied the first weekend of May in Casper.

So, all that to say that for cross-country conditions, La Niña years generally mean that Colorado will not have much snow in November or December. It can be better in Wyoming or Montana, but sometimes it isn't. So far this year is way better than last year, but it's still very early.
Strava: https://www.strava.com/athletes/2596507" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamie.mothersbaugh.3rd/
Skimo95
Posts: 307
Joined: 5/19/2021
14ers: 58  5  16 
13ers: 87 1
 

Re: Late April, Early May?

Post by Skimo95 »

Since we’ve switched topics.. this is a great article by Thomas Horner

https://medium.com/14ers-forecast/la-ni ... 0ce2b57264
Ptglhs
Posts: 1404
Joined: 1/6/2016
14ers: 58  8 
13ers: 63 3
Trip Reports (4)
 

Re: Late April, Early May?

Post by Ptglhs »

As others have mentioned, late April and early May are not good times of year for a 1st 14er. I have photos of a hike that 3 other members of this site and I did on 24 April, 2019: snowshoes, crampons, ice axe, blowing snow and very low visibility going up the summit pitch on Fletcher. Unless you're ready to embrace that level of suck, I'd move your proposed dates.

I love hiking in the alpine in Sept/Oct when the aspens are gold, the willows are orange, you can smell the damp decay in the boys, the skies are a blue which goes on forever. It feels like the mountains are holding their breath, bracing for winter. If wildflowers are your thing then go early July. Based on your acclamation schedule you're given yourself plenty of time. I've hiked Elbert in early Oct with a Floridian who flew out on the red eye and drove up that morning. We summited, though she wasn't moving very fast by the time we did. You're over thinking the food piece, but you'll be just fine up there, with or without coffee.

If you're worried about crowds go midweek. Any day that isn't a holiday or a weekend instantly gets you >80% reduction in crowds. You can also go up a non standard route. The east ridge is a great trail. There's another route which isn't listed on here. Did that one this past June and didn't see anyine til we hit the summit.
User avatar
two lunches
Posts: 1142
Joined: 5/30/2014
14ers: 32 
13ers: 36
Trip Reports (1)
 

Re: Late April, Early May?

Post by two lunches »

jfm3 wrote: Mon Nov 07, 2022 5:57 pm 2013-2014: Neither weather pattern. Good snow in Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.

2014-2015: El Niño. Good snow (record-breaking in Boulder in February) but it was warm in January that season.

2015-2016: El Niño. Great snow in Wyoming, Colorado and Montana. Earliest I've ever skied in Colorado (mid-November).
i miss skiing in november!! :cry:
jfm3 wrote: Mon Nov 07, 2022 5:57 pm 2016-2017: La Niña. God-awful snow. Terrible conditions well into December. I think it got good in March, but I had a heart arrhythmia and my season was done by then.

2017-2018: La Niña. Even worse than last year. Nothing is more soul-sucking than doing running intervals on dry dirt in the dark in the middle of December. No significant accumulation until the Saturday before Christmas, when half the state got stuck on I-70 as it snowed 2 feet and the tunnel lost power. I was in Wyoming so I watched all that on the webcams. I went up the south side of Mt. Meeker the first weekend of June in 2018 and it was bone dry all the way up.
i swear one or both of these years we started off mega strong, well above-average snowpack by december and then just fell right off the map... maybe i'm ONLY remembering late december?
jfm3 wrote: Mon Nov 07, 2022 5:57 pm 2019-2020: El Niño. Good snow the whole season, but all the ski areas closed in March because of the pandemic. Skied on the cross-country trails at 7800' in Casper the first weekend of May.
february 8, 2020: 38" overnight was one of the best days of skiing i've ever had in my life. it was worth every single second of the 3-1/2 hours of traffic i sat in to get to loveland (which should be a 45min drive). my abs were sore the next day from ALL THAT POWWWWWW. man what a wasted season for us non-backcountry folk
“To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.” – Mary Davis
User avatar
jfm3
Posts: 219
Joined: 8/2/2016
14ers: 56 
13ers: 16
Trip Reports (8)
 
Contact:

Re: Late April, Early May?

Post by jfm3 »

two lunches wrote: Tue Nov 08, 2022 8:46 am
jfm3 wrote: Mon Nov 07, 2022 5:57 pm 2016-2017: La Niña. God-awful snow. Terrible conditions well into December. I think it got good in March, but I had a heart arrhythmia and my season was done by then.

2017-2018: La Niña. Even worse than last year. Nothing is more soul-sucking than doing running intervals on dry dirt in the dark in the middle of December. No significant accumulation until the Saturday before Christmas, when half the state got stuck on I-70 as it snowed 2 feet and the tunnel lost power. I was in Wyoming so I watched all that on the webcams. I went up the south side of Mt. Meeker the first weekend of June in 2018 and it was bone dry all the way up.
i swear one or both of these years we started off mega strong, well above-average snowpack by december and then just fell right off the map... maybe i'm ONLY remembering late december?
I'm now remembering that January & February were good in 2017. Crested Butte got 10 feet of snow in the first week of January.
two lunches wrote: Tue Nov 08, 2022 8:46 am
jfm3 wrote: Mon Nov 07, 2022 5:57 pm 2019-2020: El Niño. Good snow the whole season, but all the ski areas closed in March because of the pandemic. Skied on the cross-country trails at 7800' in Casper the first weekend of May.
february 8, 2020: 38" overnight was one of the best days of skiing i've ever had in my life. it was worth every single second of the 3-1/2 hours of traffic i sat in to get to loveland (which should be a 45min drive). my abs were sore the next day from ALL THAT POWWWWWW. man what a wasted season for us non-backcountry folk
I raced the Owl Creek Chase in Aspen that weekend in February. Snow was great but that was one of the worst weekends of driving I've ever done. I drove there via Golden, Fairplay, Frisco and Glenwood Springs. Hoosier Pass was bumper-to-bumper from the pass all the way down into Frisco. I should have gone all the way to BV and over Tennessee Pass to get around Summit County. The drive home the next day wasn't quite as bad (70 to Frisco, then 285) but it still took almost 7 hours.
Strava: https://www.strava.com/athletes/2596507" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamie.mothersbaugh.3rd/
osprey
Posts: 312
Joined: 5/30/2011
14ers: 51  16 
13ers: 105 17
Trip Reports (10)
 

Re: Late April, Early May?

Post by osprey »

“As others have mentioned, late April and early May are not good times of year for a 1st 14er. I have photos of a hike that 3 other members of this site and I did on 24 April, 2019: snowshoes, crampons, ice axe, blowing snow and very low visibility going up the summit pitch on Fletcher.”


Here are three pictures showing the conditions on the Fletcher climb ptghls mentioned above. Many other forum members also have similar pictures of early spring summits.
1A6252BD-0CF6-4219-9A17-5A2253155ABC.jpeg
1A6252BD-0CF6-4219-9A17-5A2253155ABC.jpeg (91.17 KiB) Viewed 485 times
60A1B2FD-3F71-4255-B4B6-318AEC319858.jpeg
60A1B2FD-3F71-4255-B4B6-318AEC319858.jpeg (78.88 KiB) Viewed 485 times
F44E09C6-68D1-4CD1-A55C-96B95A9EA828.jpeg
F44E09C6-68D1-4CD1-A55C-96B95A9EA828.jpeg (76.35 KiB) Viewed 485 times
"Rocks, mountains, snow and ice: what more do we desire?" - Reinhard Karl

“I breathed in the air on the summit and liked it better than the air below.”
Scary_Canary
Posts: 52
Joined: 11/9/2018
Trip Reports (3)
 

Re: Late April, Early May?

Post by Scary_Canary »

k_fergie wrote: Mon Nov 07, 2022 1:12 pm
hillrunner_tx wrote: Mon Nov 07, 2022 4:03 am Thanks for the suggestions.

Quick follow up: how about early June or after Labor Day?
I'm personally hoping for a heavy snow year like 18/19, it was a record breaker. That year I climbed Sneffels and Wilson 4th of July weekend in full snow above 11.5k feet.
This was Sneffels on June 25th of 2019. Pretty awesome, got 2 or so inches of new snow the night before.
Attachments
18578.jpeg
18578.jpeg (157 KiB) Viewed 362 times
The risk I took was calculated, but I'm terrible at math.
User avatar
SchralpTheGnar
Posts: 1835
Joined: 2/26/2008
14ers: 51  49  1 
13ers: 28 23
Trip Reports (21)
 

Re: Late April, Early May?

Post by SchralpTheGnar »

I skied dead dog on the 4th of July in 1998
Post Reply