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Mount Sniktau II

April 25, 1998
Arapaho National Forest
Starting Elevation:
11,992 feet
Highest Elevation:
13,235 feet
Distance (round trip):
~ 4 miles
This trip report is really meant as a supplement to the original trip report for Mount Sniktau which you should read first. Visit this link and you can read the report as well as view a couple of photos from the area.

As I had recently come to the conslusion that ski season was now pretty much over (having been spoiled by too many powder days earlier in the season), I couldn't wait for an excuse to head up to the summit of a mountain via my own two feet. We had been blessed with several warm weather days down in Denver so I suspected that I might be able to reach the summit of Sniktau due to a lack of snow on its wind blown ridges.

By the time I reached the trailhead, clouds hung heavy over the sky to the west and the south. Hoping for the best, I changed from my shorts to my wind pants, fleece, and gloves - all of which served me well due to an almost constant wind and clouds overhead that kept trying to snow.

As this was my first hike of the season, I took my time. Where I could, I followed the trail across dry, rocky ground. Other times I was traveling in the footsteps of (mostly) snow boarders who had trompped through the snow in the area before me. Once I was up on the ridge and heading northeast (see the original report for Mount Sniktau) there was only one other set of footprints to follow since the most recent snow.

On the summit of Sniktau, I noticed a pair of Mountain Goats down the ridge directly to the east of me and about a half mile away. For more than several minutes we were eye to eye, albiet through binoculars.

Probably my greatest contribution to this report will be my close up observations of snow as it melts in a high elevation, wind-swept environment. The best way to describe what I saw would be to call it flowing leaves of ice. Although I had seen this phenomena before, never have I seen so much of it in one area! Here is my casual hypothesis: Apparently as the snow melts, any liquid water is blown in downwind - this could even be uphill! The result of this is micro-thin sheets of ice appearing as beaches and islands on oceans of dry ground. This ice doesn't rest upon the ground but is supported by vegitation, gravel, or even more snow. These sheets of ice can also appear on rocks - and in one place I noticed that the ice was curved to parallel the face of a stone! My description doesn't do justice to what I have tried to explain to you above but let's just say that nature can provide us with some wonderful things that not everyone gets to see up close. Next time I should have my camera.

The very next day after I managed the summit of Sniktau, several inches or more of snow hit the high country thus postponing the continuation of my hiking season of '98.

Note: You may also wish to view the other Mount Sniktau trip report.
Along on this hike with me: no one.