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.


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!

18 thoughts on “The 4 Pass Loop in Pictures, and Some Extra Credit

  1. Presto

    LOVE IT!!! Great trip report, Dillon. I always enjoy seeing Anna-Lisa and Ben together in the great outdoors (and I agree on the 75th wedding anniversary comment … hahaha). Beautiful photos. So cool that you included people from your church group; how appropriate for such a spectacular setting. I will have to share this with The Man. Take care, all, and happy trails!

    1. Dillon

      Presto! Thanks for the comment! If I don’t get to see you at another BBQ soon, I’ll seeya at that 75th wedding anniversary for sure :). It’s been a long time! And like Sarah said, glad to see you over here!

  2. Floyd

    Incredible photos Dillon and a trip I hope to duplicate in the not to distant future. Gordons in Fravert, I don’t think life gets much better than that.
    You know Ben… I was trying to talk my daughter into the 4-pass this summer. Thanks for the invite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Dillon

      Scot, Thanks for the comment! You and your daughter will remember this trek for a long time once you make it happen and I’m sure you will! Gordons and Fravert, sounds like a hipster band. haha. I don’t think life gets much better than that either my friend. Hopefully seeya soon!

  3. Sarah B.

    Hey, looks like Presto discovered where all the GOOD TRs are, ha ha.
    Dillon, this is awesome. I had no idea you were going with a big group, how fun! The Four Pass was one of the first backpacks Kevin and I ever did, back in 2004 I think. Truly is a classic.
    JMT is just around the corner! So how’d those spaghetti and meatball dinners work out on this trip? : )
    PS: That photo of Ben and Anna-Lisa is just precious. Agree with Terri, it’s nice to see those two enjoying the outdoors together.

    1. Dillon

      Sarah! It was a great group with all different hiking abilities/experience. Looking back I think that helped us mesh together a little easier as we all helped each other out. Sort of like how we’re going to need to help Brian carry his pack along the JMT! Can’t wait! The spaghetti and meatballs are still a work in progress. I think I need to add biscuits to the arsenal. And, I agree, it is great to see Anna-Lisa enjoying CO this summer as much as as the Bennygoater. It’s been super fun following these 2 around :). See you in 3 weeks! This is happening!

  4. DKYarian

    Images over words… it Dillarino. What a great report and a great trip. Glad it all worked out for you guys. Thanks for sharing!
    PS: I want a GoPro video of the dancing shenanigans happening in that pic!

    1. Dillon

      Zambo! Yep, I thought the pics could do a better job of re-living the trek and I think they did man. Thanks! Similar to the Bald Mountain nerdrager footage, no one is ever allowed to see the “Trailrider Pass, ooooooohhhh yeah” shenanigans video. 🙂 BUT I’d love to tell ya the story sometime in the Park or on the French Group homie.

  5. Kory Sarnelli

    The pics are amazing – start selling postcards…ha
    On a sidenote, why is the logbook so empty? Seems way too nice of a place for so few people to have enjoyed it.

    1. Dillon

      Kory! Thanks for reading from afar out there. Tell the family I say hey! When you come back to see your long lost sibling, I’ll bring you to a place like this for sure. The logbook is so empty for a lot of reasons, but most likely because it is surrounded by all of the beasts of the Elk Range. Ben and I both agreed up there that is was nice to sit back on this summit and reminisce on all our past accomplishments/experiences/adventures all around us.

  6. Ben

    Thanks for taking the time to put this up, Dillon. And thanks for taking a ton of great photos along the way. You’re making me lazy with the camera I think :). What an awesome trip with a great group. Glad you could come along and thank you again to Nate, Laura, and Lonni for putting the whole thing together!

    1. Dillon

      Benny, the thanks is all mine. The June/July trips were about as much fun as I’ve had in CO and I’ll remember ’em for a long time man. Too many more just like it, Goater! You just keep carrying the #gaperselfie GoPro and I’ll take care of the rest 🙂 Teamwork, buddy! Yepper, thank you again Nate, Laura and Lonni for putting it all together and the whole gang for being awesome.

    1. Dillon

      Prakash! Thanks for the comment. Yep, we are certainly some crazy hooligans when out in the wild, but we kept the mischief levels to a min on this one. Looking forward to seeing you and your motorcycle helmet soon! Hope you are having a great summer!

    1. Dillon

      Larry, there is an IPA in my fridge with your name on it anytime! 🙂 Thanks for being a great teammate. Enjoy the rest of your summer and hopefully I’ll see you again next year!

  7. Brian

    Ice dips, IPA’s, great views and a lot of ground covered. Nice work fellas. Are you insinuating that Pyramid Peak is a Me Monster?

    1. Dillon

      Miller – What’s a Me Monster? Can you give me some examples? 😉 Ice Dips, IPA’s, and great views… That for sure is what it’s all about buddy!


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