Peak Names: Clark Peak & Mount Daly

Peak Heights: 13,580' & 13,300'

Location: Elk Mountains, Colorado

Trailhead: Snowmass Creek

Difficulty: Class 4

Round Trip Backpack: 14 mi, 4400 ft

Round Trip Climb: 5.6 mi, 3500 ft

Dates Climbed: 12/30/2016 - 1/1/2017

I have fond memories of Clark Peak as one of the more enjoyable thirteeners in the state. Its narrow 4th class west ridge is a delightful scramble in the summertime (despite the relentless talus hopping required to reach it). Over the last couple of years I've found myself wondering whether this might make a fun little romp in winter as well, and Dom and I have contemplated giving it a try on occasion. The route follows the ridge proper the entire way, making it a promising winter candidate. The moderate northeast facing slopes required to access the ridge however do not.

When presented with a long holiday weekend, a decent weather forecast, and reports of favorable conditions in the Elks, Clark's time finally came. Yah, maybe throw in Daly too. Success on at least one of the two seems like a reasonable bet. Off to Moon Lake with enough provisions for three nights out.

This ended up being one of those special, carefree days of winter climbing in Colorado's high country. The sun was shining, and barely a breeze blew. The snowpack was so thin that avalanche danger was nil and consolidated enough that trailbreaking wasn't especially taxing. Clark's west ridge was an awesome scramble; we wore crampons but didn't ever need the short rope we'd brought along. Daly's south ridge was an easier and drier undertaking. We managed the pair in a casual 10 hours round trip from camp.

So much for easing into winter. This was our first snowshoe of the season and first real hiking we'd done since our trip to Peru in July!

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