The 4 Pass Loop in Pictures, and Some Extra Credit

The obligatory group shot at Maroon Lake. From left to right: Dillon, Anna-Lisa, Ben, Lonni, Larry, Nathan, Laura, and Karen. Where’s Andrew Gordon?

Over the weekend I had the privilege of backpacking the 4 Pass Loop in the Elks with Benny, Anna-Lisa and a great group of friends from their church group. Having had a few days to reflect on the journey, many words come to mind; intense, amazing, beautiful, fun, just to name a few, but I think the word that conveys the journey best is special. The Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness is in a class by itself and I thought it best to let the pictures tell the story.

The Maroon Bells keeping a watchful eye as we begin our journey.
The view from camp looking back in the direction of Crater Lake on the morning of day 2.
Extra Credit #1 – After quickly reaching West Maroon Pass from camp, some of the team begins the ascent from the pass to 13er Belleview Mountain (or so we thought).
South Maroon (L) and Belleview Mountain (R) from the summit of unranked 13,210.
The wildflowers are in full bloom.
Shenanigans.
The gang making their way towards Frigid Air Pass.
Frigid Air Pass – July 25, 2014 – The Maroon Bells make for an OK backdrop. Karen, are you doing the Pee Wee Herman dance? Suns not out, Nate! Oh, and Laura may still be stuck in that position. 🙂
This shot was actually harder to get than the previous one!
I just hope they invite me to their 75th wedding anniversary.
Fravert Basin is unreal.
This picture doesn’t come close to doing this waterfall justice. We camped on a grassy ledge to the west of these falls on night 2. Ben and I had packed in a few Gordons and decided it was time to stop carrying them around! It doesn’t get much better than sipping on a few pounders around a campfire and then eventually calling it a night to the sound of a rushing waterfall.
The trail.
Team Awesome cranking along. This shot defines Colorado backpacking.
As we begin the 2,000 foot ascent to Trail Rider Pass, the enormity of the Elk Range is evident. Some of the team can be seen in the center of the snowfield.
Approaching the upper basin, we realize just how far Trail Rider Pass is.
Some of the rock in the upper basin.
Upon reaching the top of Trail Rider Pass we get our first look down at Snowmass Lake.
You must camp at least 100 feet from Snowmass Lake so we camped 101 feet from Snowmass Lake. Ben and Anna-Lisa took a very accurate measurement.
Nate and Laura, please frame this!
Extra Credit #2 – Ben and I had our eyes set on UN 13,062 B and decided that on Day 4 we would make it happen. With a 4:20 AM start we left camp using our headlamps and ascended 2,100 ft over 2 miles to the summit. The timing couldn’t have been better as we caught this shot just as we reached the top.
This picture requires no caption. This is why we do what we do. This whole trip was special on many levels, but this summit stands out as one that I’ll remember for a long time to come. Thanks for being a great climbing wingman, Benners.
Summit of UN 13,062 B – July 27, 2014 @ 5:57 AM
“4 Pass Loop Xtra Credit”
Snowmass Peak, Hagerman Peak, Snowmass Mountain, Capitol Peak and Clark Peak to the north from the summit of UN 13,062 B (a.k.a. “Fravert Peak” and/or “Trail Rider Peak”). The views 360 degrees were like no other I have seen.
Ben reading the 34 names that have signed the register since 2006.
Ben taking it all in one last time on the descent before heading back to camp for breakfast.
Snowmass Lake. Need I say more.
One of the beaver dams on the trek over to Buckskin Pass. We took an ice cold dip a little further downstream.
Team Awesome, a little smellier, but still smiling. Anna-Lisa leading the pack. She wanted to go for another 4 days, but we talked her out of it.
More shenanigans. Lonni obviously saved her Vicodin for day 4! 🙂
“Oooooooohhhhhhhh yeah!”
Ascending Buckskin Pass. Still no sign of Andrew Gordon!…or Larry!
Almost there…
The team is still all smiles on Buckskin Pass 4 days in. Pyramid Peak towering in the background saying look at me!
Extra Credit #3 – Ben and I ran up Buckskin Benchmark – 13,370′, just a short jaunt to the north of the pass while the rest of the team began the steep descent to Crater Lake.
Summit of Buckskin Benchmark – 13,370 ft. – July 27, 2014.
The view south from the summit of Buckskin Benchmark.

The descent from the pass went quickly and we were eventually all reunited at Crater Lake. From there it was an every man for themselves free-for-all back to Maroon Lake!

A big thanks to Benny and Anna-Lisa for inviting me along on this one and an equally big thanks to the rest of the team for being so welcoming. It was a pleasure spending 4 days in the wild with all of you and Ben Stiller can’t wait until next year!

Back at the ranch. Aspen IPA never tasted so good. Even Larry would have appreciated one of these.
Until next year…. Andrew Gordon, BELIEVE!

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