Jeff and I had plans of climbing Shooting Star Couloir on James Peak this particular day. The weather had different plans. Friends had reported soft snow when reaching the climb by 7:30 the previous weekend, so we thought we'd move up the time and try and hit the couloir when it was firm. We left Highlands Ranch, Colorado, shortly after 2:00 and were at the trailhead by 3:15. We made our way to St. Marys Glacier when the wind and snow increased in volume and intensity. We quickly added a layer of clothing and proceeded up the glacier assuming conditions would let up. As long as we were moving, we stayed warm, but neither one of us had additional clothes as we assumed a fairly warm day given it was June.
We hiked the glacier and started across the flats towards James Peak when visibility decreased and the weather remained poor. We were hiking into a ground blizzard. Occasionally, we could pick up some ridge outlines to confirm our position. I had read about people getting disoriented on these high flats and didn't want to be one of them. We didn't have a GPS, compass, map, or extra clothes to sustain the conditions. As a result, we bailed and started back towards the trailhead. Approximately one third of the way back down the glacier we ran into a group of three skiers who were also calling it a day. On the way back down to the lake, I slipped and sprained my thumb which only aggravated the morning. However, we recovered quickly as you can see in the next trip report.