Maroon Bells Loop Weather Question
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Trace Richardson
(tracedef) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Maroon Bells Loop Weather Question on 07/01/2013 12:27:59 MDT Print View

Looking at weather for Maroon Bells Loop trip we're tentatively planning for Thursday through Sunday (4th through 7th) .... apart from typical daily showers .... the forecasted weather isn't looking so great in terms of thunderstorms ....

Looking at following forecasts:

http://www.weather.com/weather/tenday/Maroon+Bells-Snowmass+Wilderness+CO+COWAMB:13

http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=39.066380823434486&lon=-107.00597763061523#.UdHH-RYmBwt

Apart from usual afternoon rains, which we're anticipating, .... anyone with experience in this area have any feedback on whether this is safe and or doable if there do turn out to be scattered thunderstorms ..... Rockies, thunderstorms, elevation .... not a great mix ...

Also wondering if this might be doable / safer if we hit passes early in the morning as opposed to afternoon if the thunderstorms do come to fruition .... or if the topography makes this a good place to avoid in any thunderstorm scenario .... I'm thinking this is the case, but would love to hear others' thoughts ....

Open ended questions with lots of variables aside, any feedback appreciated ....

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Maroon Bells Loop Weather Question on 07/01/2013 12:44:55 MDT Print View

"Also wondering if this might be doable / safer if we hit passes early in the morning as opposed to afternoon..."

Sooner is usually better than later. Thunderstorms in the Rockies are more likely after noon than before. Four days and four passes. "Down by noon" is the catch phrase.

Most of the time the storms are quick moving. On more than one occasion I've hunkered down and just waited them out. Thirty minutes usually does it, but I've spent a hour on occasions waiting for the "flash-boom" to get up to 10 seconds.

It lightning. I've seen a stroke run a mile, paralleling the slope, and strike in the valley.
Predictions are OK, but you have to remember the stats fall on a bell curve.

BJ Clark
(bj.clark) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: Maroon Bells Loop Weather Question on 07/01/2013 12:51:02 MDT Print View

Doable, but you have to get up and go in the morning. I tend to be hiking pretty early in anticipation of later in the day weather. The forecast is definitely unsettled for the next few days and storms may start earlier in the day. Just gear up for bad weather and go! Besides the forecast might turn out to be much ado about nothing.

Trace Richardson
(tracedef) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Thanks! on 07/01/2013 14:35:08 MDT Print View

Thanks guys! We're going to head out early, get passes done early and prepare for the worst and hope for the best!

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Maroon Bells Loop Weather Question on 07/01/2013 21:30:07 MDT Print View

Trace, that looks like a typical July forecast for the Colorado high country. I agree with my fellow Coloradans that you want to get over the high passes early the the day. The rule of thumb is to get down by noon or one, but I've been trapped on a high ridge by thunderstorms as early as eleven.

A good itinerary for a doing the loop counterclockwise would be to camp in the trees just short of West Maroon Pass on the night of the 4th, then hike over West Maroon and Frigid Air passes early in the day on the 5th. Later in the day, you can visit Geneva Lake, possibly camping there, to get you in good position to climb Trail Rider Pass on the morning of the 6th. Be sure to visit Snowmass Lake, which is very beautiful. You can camp there, but it gets pretty crowded. If you camp closer to Buckskin Pass, you'll have plenty of time to hike over it in the morning hours and down into Minnehaha Gulch.

The last time I hiked this loop was just about a year ago, going in the opposite direction. You can find my trip report at Dondo Outdoors.

Edited by Dondo on 07/01/2013 21:31:44 MDT.

Christopher Chupka
(FatTexan) - M

Locale: NTX
Racing a Storm on 07/02/2013 08:41:05 MDT Print View

Remember it's not fun racing a storm with a pack on trying to get over a pass. I've been chased off 14'ers before, not seeing a storm til I'm up on top.

Trace Richardson
(tracedef) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Trip Results on 08/21/2013 16:39:05 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the feedback guys .... turns out the weather was perfect for us, despite nasty forecasts. Some had hail as they came down a pass we were approaching but it would be sunny for us when we got to the top. We just went through a cycle of layering up went the clouds came out and then ripped everything off when the sun came out ... which was about every 15 or 20 minutes. :) My takeaway is that the weather in CO is too dynamic to pay much heed to forecasts .... preparing for the worst and hoping for the best is what we should always do anyways, but the I'll take the forecasts with a bigger grain of salt than I would say, in the Sierras .... thanks again!