American Peak  
Condition Updates  
Route: From Cataract gulch/Cuba gulch
Posted On: 2022-05-31, By: Codyhill1991
Info: Beautiful day, summer-like conditions. A little bit of snow on top but was very easy to walk across without spikes. Didn't bag the other peaks, but will add pics. American basin still very snowy. 
5 2
Route: South Ridge
Posted On: 2022-05-26, By: desertdog
Info: Dry, summer conditions. No snow gear needed. 
Route: American-Jones-Niagra-Crown traverse
Posted On: 2022-05-21, By: Geckser
Info: We drove down to the San Juan's on Friday hoping to dodge the snow and get some centennials in. We went to bed happy on Friday night but Tad (the winter storm) had other ideas dropping a couple of inches. We bailed on Rio Grande Pyramid and went over to Lake City to hit this batch of 5 13ers. We made it all the way to the scuba Gulch Trailhead with a little work The day was slushy, cold, snowy and windy, despite this it was a pretty good day with 5 summits. We followed a route that tagged Crown and North Crown along with the big boys. The snow that fell was largely gone by 2:00 pm, at least below 12k. It took us about 6 hours, 15 minutes despite being slowed down by the snow. We will make a push on Rio Grande Pyramid tomorrow if weather cooperates. It is now beautiful in the San Juan's. 
6 3
Route: Traitor Couloir
Posted On: 2022-05-16, By: CheapCigarMan
Info: Another epic couloir! I put this one up there with Pacific Peak's North Couloir. We ascended Traitor Couloir and glissaded back down Patriot Couloir. Independence looked like a great ride as well as we passed it on our way to American's summit. Crampons, ice axe (I would have appreciated two while on the final icy stretch in the couloir), helmet, and snowshoes were all used. Good snow on the approach in the morning. Traitor itself was in great shape but is transitioning. Good snow at the base, starting to become rotted snow in the middle, and the top 20' - 30' becoming ice. Roach is accurate when he says this is a treacherous couloir. As my partner and I faced rockfall while in the bottom section. Two tennis to softball sized rocks just missed me by inches, while a tennis sized ice ball hit my chest. Thankful my partner called out "rock" which allowed me to move just enough to dodge the first two flying projectiles. Used crampons ascending the couloir but didn't use them again. Seen a pair of stashed snowshoes near the exit of the couloir. There are several snowy slopes hiking over and up to American. Didn't use traction to cross them. Once back down in the upper basin near Sloan Lake we started without snowshoes but soon found out they were needed. From there we made several adjustments from wearing them to hiking without them then wearing them again when they were needed. 
12 4
Route: SE Ridge
Posted On: 2021-10-05, By: madmattd
Info: Snare Stairs have a few blowdowns and a 5' deep washout down low, one switchback has some small aspens growing on it but easy to pass through. Otherwise clear on the ascent if heavy on the loose rock in a few places. The ascent up to the ridge from ~12,800' in the valley was very steep and loose in many places. The ridge itself to the summit was just steep. Snow started around 13,000', though was not really a factor to the summit (no traction used). We put microspikes on for the descent to the American-Jones saddle. The initial descent off the summit was slick and had up to 10" of snow in a couple places, care was needed around the top of a couple couloirs. The traversing descent was far more pleasant than expected, pretty easy going with a couple inches of snow. 
Route: West Face
Posted On: 2021-07-04, By: tortilla
Info: American, Jones, and Niagara from American Basin. All 4 couloirs on American look melted out. Climbed snow and talus to gain American's west ridge. Able to kick steps with one swing of the foot. Had trouble getting purchase with my axe pick but climbing with a self belay grip was easier anyway given the slope angle. One could gain the ridge without touching snow if they wanted. The ridge over to Jones and then Niagara is effectively snow free. There is one short band of snow to cross at the American-Jones saddle. Nothing to write about, yet here I am. Avoided snow on the descent and suffered my way down the talus. Saw three other people once I split from the Handies trail. As expected, the area in general was a madhouse given the holiday weekend. A pair of tourists dusted me with their razors as I was driving down from American Basin. Maybe a mile later I saw one of them had rolled. After checking that they weren't injured I enjoyed a moment, or two, of smug satisfaction. The razor might still be there as it wasn't driveable. This happened just past the silver/grizzly TH by one of the rock steps. 
Route: American Basin
Posted On: 2021-06-23, By: straight_up
Info: Ascended West Face with descent of Patriot. Snow was good for the West Face and Traitor also appeared to be in (though it could be thin in places). Other couloirs were out, but was able to glissade about 1/2 of Patriot. 
Route: Patriot Couloir
Posted On: 2021-05-17, By: Shattuck311
Info: Couloirs are in great shape on American, and you can ski all the way back to the vehicles at the trailhead, though that won't last more than a few days as it was melting fast down low. A few pics to show the snowpack in American Basin and up on the lines above 
2 3
Route: american basin
Posted On: 2020-10-11, By: Trotter
Info: Needs a summit register 
Route: From Jones Mountain A
Posted On: 2020-08-30, By: supranihilest
Info: The descent off Jones is steep and sometimes loose. I had a couple of Class 2+ moves along the way to the saddle, and the use trail is sometimes very narrow and moderately exposed. If it's wet it could be sketchy. From the Jones/American saddle there's a use trail all the way up American, and it's actually in great shape. Easy to follow, solid footing. To get back to Grouse/Burns Gulch return to the Jones/American saddle. I made a mistake here and descended from this saddle thinking I was dropping into Grouse Gulch, but it's actually the northern lobe of Burns Gulch. It turned out fine, there were no cliffs or other nasty, unseen terrain, just a lot of junky rock on a massive rock glacier. I then took the Burns Gulch road back down. If you end up in the same position I did just follow the main drainage. There's a rather stagnant lake along the way and you'll be able to see the road from afar; just keep going down the drainage on either talus or grass and you'll get back to the road no issue, even if it looks like it might cliff out. 
Route: South Ridge
Posted On: 2020-06-22, By: Alrightmax
Info: The basin SE of American still has a good amount of snow. The Snare looks like a great snow climb currently or avoid the snow by attacking the ridge directly in a NW ascent. Bring an ice axe if traversing to Jones. 
Route: Independence/Patriot
Posted On: 2020-05-22, By: Tim A
Info: All four couloirs on American's north face are still in. The gate closure at Grizzly Gulch adds 1000' and 8 miles of easy road walking. Given the overnight forecast of 19F (confirmed with car thermometer at 3am), we started later than would normally and made the base of Independence at 10am. A-basin still 80% snow but firm in the morning after a solid freeze. Couloir conditions were variable but mostly soft and great for kicking steps. The east side of it (climbers left) stays shaded into late morning. The rotten rock towers over the couloir dump rocks as it warms up. Ate lunch on the ridge, then scrambled over to Patriot couloir for descent. The rock is very lose on the south side of the peak. Given how soft Patriot was at 12pm, we opted to skip the scramble up to the summit and glissaded down Patriot in very soft snow. Basin included much postholing on the exit after 1pm (we didn't want to carry snowshoes up and down 8 miles of dry road). Given a weaker freeze I would have moved everything up 2-3 hours to be out by 11am. Will go back up for the summit after the gate opens if anyone is interested in tagging a bi-cent. 
Route: from Jones
Posted On: 2019-09-03, By: 9patrickmurphy
Info: see my trip report for Jones A about the initial ascent from American Basin From the Jones-American saddle, aim for a patch of silver, lighter-grey rocks. The trail will appear, even though it's hard to see from a distance. Bomber talus trail to the summit. I actually took Patriot Couloir for the descent. I did this mostly because I wanted to add Handies to my day without too much re-gain. The couloir doesn't have a cornice, just a snow patch at the top. It's not crazy steep, and the rocks are loose and not too large. It wasn't quite scree-skiing, but got decently close enough that it felt secure. I would NOT have done this descent if I was hiking with someone, rocks were flying like crazy below me. Perhaps not the best descent option, but if you're not too afraid of loose rock and it looks good to you, definitely viable. Don't count on it, make the decision yourself when you're looking down at it yourself. Only 600 feet from top of the couloir to Sloan Lake. 
Route: Independence Couloir
Posted On: 2019-07-21, By: HikerGuy
Info: Nice little couloir, moderate angle. Axe, crampons and helmet used. Easy finish, no cornice. Patriot Couloir had a small cornice on top, so I think this is the best choice right now. Hiked from 2wd TH in American Basin. So many avalanches in the basin, 4wd TH will be closed for some time. Went on to hike Jones and Niagara. Photo 1 - View of American Basin from 2wd TH. Photo 2 - Snowbridge crossing between 2wd parking and creek crossing. Photo 3 - Snow slide remnant covering 4wd road, one of many. Photo 4 - Approaching the upper basin. Photo 5 - Independence Couloir. Photo 6 - View of Handies and ice covered Sloan Lake. Photo 7 - Looking down from atop Northeast Face return descent with Handies in the background. Photo 8 - Looking back up at descent slope. Photo 9 - Route topo map. 
Route: North Face Couloirs
Posted On: 2018-04-23, By: jmanner
Info: We got a good view of the couloirs from Handies today. Unfortunately, we weren't able to ski them. 
Route: SE Ridge from Cataract TH
Posted On: 2018-03-30, By: bmcqueen
Info: I climbed American, Jones, Niagara, Crown and N Crown today from the Cataract TH. While some sections of road are dry above Cataract, there are still some early patches preventing travel higher just yet. I started just after 4, so everything was pretty nice and frozen on the way in. A few stretches of road were problematic, so I wore my snowshoes and mostly cruised on top. I didn't take them off until 13k when I switched to crampons. The ridges between the peaks are all in good shape with snow conditions more like late-April than late March. My luck gave out on the descent though as the snow softened up considerably during the day. Many, many knee deep plunges in even following my ascent tracks in snowshoes again on the way down. Trip Report is posted with lots of pics if you're interested. 
Route: Independence
Posted On: 2016-06-20, By: CUaaron25
Info: Hiked American peak via the independence couloir on Saturday. The basin had intermittent snow but we were able to walk all the way to the independence couloir with our skis on our backs. Arrived at the base of the couloir around 730ish and found perfect snow for cramponing. Only two minor snow slopes to cross on the backside of the peak but avoidable. We skiied patriot and harvested massive amounts of corn! The top 50-75ft of patriot is melted out but independence was continuous to the ridge. the next day we hiked un 13,832 in what we're basically summer conditions! 
Route: West Face
Posted On: 2015-08-04, By: Grover
Info: Reached the summit of American Peak via the westernmost gully (i.e. West Face Route, per the Roach 13‘ers book) from American Basin. It is a straightforward hike to the gully that is used to get up to the ridge. There is still about 300‘ of snow in this gully so I used crampons and ice ax to make quick work of the snow and reach the low point on the ridge. You could hike up on the rubble/dirt/scree on the right side of the snow, as I used this option for my descent (so the left side when coming down), instead of suiting up in crampons again. Once on the back side of American, the use trail to get over to the Jones/American saddle is easy to follow. The route is then well defined when you are finally on the West Ridge Route that comes in from Jones Mountain. Of course the classic 14‘er vs 13‘er battle was easy to see on this (rainy) day: The summit of Handies Peak was visited by at least 15 ppl, American Peak was only visited by 1 person. 
Route: All couloirs
Posted On: 2015-06-10, By: Grover
Info: I did not attempt to climb American Pk., but I did drive up into American Basin on Monday, to get a look at the coverage on the couloirs. As you can see, there has been plenty of avalanche activity in this area. If you were going to make an attempt for American or Handies from American Basin, you can drive to the creek crossing as has been reported, then park there, and you would be able to skin or snowshoe from that very point. That whole area is COVERED with snow. 
Route: North Face
Posted On: 2014-06-02, By: alpinenut
Info: Attempted to climb 2 different couloirs on the North Face. One at 6:30am and one at 7:00am. Both were too soft (postholing up to our knees) and appeared to have remnants of small wet slides. There is one lookers left of the summit that appears to have shade longer in the day (especially if you stay to the left by the rocks). Maybe if we get some freeze thaw that one would be good. Lookers right of the summit gets sun very early in the day. Looking back at the map that entire face does face slightly E so I guess you need to get up to the summit by 5:30 this time of year. 1st Picture is the N face of American Peak taken from Handies. 2nd Picture shows a closer view with Red Line showing the line with more shade. 

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