St Mary's Glacier snowshoe

Wanderlust073

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It's probably going to take me longer to put this post together than it did to shoe this but this section doesn't seem to get a lot of love and, hey - TR!

St Mary's glacier is a permanent snowfield a bit northwest of Idaho Springs, CO in a town called Alice. This is a windy place on a good day, and this morning was not a good day. Gusts were north of 65mph. I'm not a small guy and there were a couple times I had to drop to my knees and turtle up because I was getting knocked over. I could tell it was going to be spicy as I got nearer to the trailhead, but it's a short hike of around a mile and a half round-trip and I'm so sick of weather screwing my plans lately that there was no way I was turning around.

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Anyway there's no such thing as bad weather just insufficient gear, right? All layered up and sporting goggles and a balaclava, I marched up the slope with that lovely feeling of looking out on to the nastiness from inside my cozy bubble.

The trail starts around 10,400' and peaks out around 10,800. It's a good incline but not brutal, and the 'high heels' setting on the MSR's really takes a lot of the effort out of it.

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There were a few other snowshoers in the area and a couple skiers. I was surprised to see a couple dogs running around without paw protection on. My jeep said it was 8 degrees at the trailhead and with the wind that's about -20F to -25F windchill if I have the math right. My hands went from painful to numb in less time than it took me to strap my snowshoes up.

I had brought my SLR but since it looked like just keeping myself upright was going to be a challenge, I buried it in my jeep and used my phone to snap some pics. As you can imagine, the phone didn't last long and the battery plummeted to zero about a tenth of a mile short of the glacier (which couldn't be seen anyway, so no loss).

Enjoy a hike up the trail:

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There's a small alpine lake just shy of the glacier. The wind here was absolutely off the hook. The path to the glacier runs along the right side in the pic below. This is where my phone gave up the ghost.

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A quick peak at the whiteout and then the short trudge back down hill. Scariest part of the trip was driving back down the mountain hoping that 4wd, 1st gear and Blizzaks would see me safely back to the highway - and they did!
 

KevinBoyer

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Sep 16, 2013
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Nice write-up. I've been out snowshoeing in conditions like that in Yellowstone before and can feel the cold as I type. 8 degrees isn't too bad, but when you throw winds like that in, it can get downright dangerous. What boots are you wearing?
 

Wanderlust073

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What boots are you wearing?

Lowa Renegade's. Same ones I wear for 3-season hiking actually. Really good boot.

One sort of related review - the gaiters are Outdoor Research Verglas and they are not so good. OR's sizing chart says I should wear a large, but the large was clown-size large so I returned for a medium and yet I can barely get the mediums to strap under my boot or seal around my calves. They manage to stay attached and I don't want to go in and return them yet again so I deal, but I would not recommend them to anyone unless you can try them on over what you'd actually be wearing in the field before buying.
 

Wanderlust073

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Thanks...the Renegades are nice boots. I had a pair I used for snowshoeing a few years back, but switched over to Salomon. I've got OR and Black Diamond gaiters. Love my Black Diamond.

When I got the Lowa's I actually went in planning to get Salomon GTX4's or whatever that popular model is. They were really tight/narrow on my feet though, so I ended up with the Lowa's.

I might suck it up and deal with the REI green-vest attitude over returning the OR's a second time and try some BD's.
 
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you can just feel the cold through the computer screen!
 

wsp_scott

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That looks like a pretty good micro adventure, just enough to feel like you did something hard, without risking your fingers to frostbite :)
 

Ugly

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When the bark is stripped from the trees it's windy!
It looks gnarly.
 

Miya

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Sounds like when you were "turtling" up. I would have been in the fetal position crying for heat. Haha
Looks beautiful! Thanks for the TR!
 

Shirt357

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Jan 24, 2017
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One sort of related review - the gaiters are Outdoor Research Verglas and they are not so good. OR's sizing chart says I should wear a large, but the large was clown-size large so I returned for a medium and yet I can barely get the mediums to strap under my boot or seal around my calves. They manage to stay attached and I don't want to go in and return them yet again so I deal, but I would not recommend them to anyone unless you can try them on over what you'd actually be wearing in the field before buying.

First.... gotta say... that just looks Like a brisk chilly walk!

Also, gottaa comment on the OR gaiters. I have some and am beyond disappointed in them. Sizing is off and for me, I also wore a hole in them way too quickly, even with my poor gait. Next time I will need to see what other brands are out there.
 

KevinBoyer

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Sep 16, 2013
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First.... gotta say... that just looks Like a brisk chilly walk!

Also, gottaa comment on the OR gaiters. I have some and am beyond disappointed in them. Sizing is off and for me, I also wore a hole in them way too quickly, even with my poor gait. Next time I will need to see what other brands are out there.

Black Diamond for the win!!
 

Vegan.Hiker

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Looks like a great spot for a mini adventure. I bet you’re glad you didn’t have to post up a tent in those conditions.
 
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