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 Peak(s):  Mt. Sneffels  -  14,150 feet
 Post Date:  06/23/2011
 Date Climbed:   06/21/2011
 Posted By:  pioletski

 Snakin' Sneffels for the Solstice   


Midsummer's Day Ski Tour on Mt Sneffels



Climb of Mt Sneffels via (east) Birthday Chute
Ski/board descent of the Snake Couloir
Return to Yankee Boy Basin via Lavender Couloir

About 5000' climbed and skied, 7 miles (but it felt like a bigger day than the numbers show)

Crew: Gerlinde (telerina13):

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Kim (skiberly):

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Jarrett (EasyRider):

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Matt (pioletski):

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(Kim)


JimBob, the resident marmot:

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This trip was conceived in the heady atmosphere of Brittany Walker and Frank Konsella's wedding in Crested Butte on the 18th. Imagine the energy and enthusiasm of a room full of crazed and happy ski mountaineers, well lubricated by an open bar... you get the idea.

Our calendar marks the summer solstice as the first day of summer. In northern European and Scandinavian culture it is Midsummer's Day - the longest day of the year, after which we begin the long gradual slide back to winter. Kim suggested celebrating this day with a long, not-so-gradual slide down the Snake Couloir that graces the north face of Mt Sneffels. We waited patiently while snow fell on the 20th (!), and prepared to set out on the 21st.

After hitting the snooze button a couple of times, we hit the trail around 6:00 am. After an hour's warmup we were greeted by some highly informative signboards:

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We skinned up among the spires and ramparts of Mt Sneffels...

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(Kim)


... while the sun burned away the last remnants of the previous day's storm:

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Our chosen route was up the (climber's) right-hand Birthday Chute, which afforded a fairly direct shot to the summit on snow:

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Lizard Head watched us climb from a distance:

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The day was perfect; brilliant sunshine, yet not uncomfortably hot on the climb:

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(Kim)


The scenery was really rather pleasant...

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... and, with the exception of some recalcitrant crampon straps, the climb proceeded without incident:

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(Kim)


Jarrett led the way:

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(Kim)


Here Kim and Gerlinde approach the summit:

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The beauty of Sneffels' summit thoroughly lives up to its magical reputation. Toward the east, Uncompahgre towers above the surrounding San Juans:

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The Wilson Group graces the western skyline:

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The Grenadiers lie to the south:

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And Dallas seems close enough to touch:

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After an unhurried rest on the summit we set up to rappel into the Snake Couloir. (We used two 30m ropes tied together; this was ample but a single 50m rope might not have been enough.)

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(Kim)


Gerlinde arrives at the top of the ski run:

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Jarrett looks down in anticipation:

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(Kim)


We had the pleasure of meeting up with David, Matt and (if I remember right) Scooter, who had climbed the Snake from Blaine Basin:

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Skiing down was interesting, exhilarating, and even scary in spots. The snowfall and subsequent wind redistribution had filled in the hollows and runnels in the snow, and the north-facing aspect had preserved it fairly well. The varying degree of sun exposure made for a rapidly changing surface.

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A cornice looms above the lower half of the chute:

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To add to the mystery of the place, the Snake is steep, narrow and curvy, so you can't see the bottom until you're almost all the way through:

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(Kim)


Looking back up from below:

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(Kim)


Once down, the long part of the day began. We traversed to the east...

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(Kim)


... then began the 1800 foot climb to the Lavender Col:

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(Kim)


Visions of cold beers danced in our heads as we attained the col and made the final transition before sliding gratefully back to the trucks:

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Thanks to my compadres for a great day, and thanks for reading!



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
lodgling


Nice trip!     2011-06-23 08:56:21
Looks like a great group on a great route.

Is there still a B-day chutes line in from the summit?


Floyd


Gorgeous     2011-06-23 09:02:30
Area's snow pack looks prime for some climbing. Thanks for posting.


otherbrotherdarryl

What a gorgeous day!     2011-06-23 09:22:00
You guys looked like a team of ninjas out there! Way to go!


pioletski



Lodgling -     2011-06-23 10:11:10
You could probably piece together a continuous line down the east B'day Chute, at most you might have to scramble over a few feet of rocks. It would definitely be worth it.


gdthomas


Nice Pics     2011-06-23 10:56:00
I hate recalcitrant crampon straps!


Matt Lemke


Way to go!     2011-06-23 23:46:38
I climbed Sneffels by the same route a couple weeks ago and saw a fantastic sunrise. Beautiful snow climb...except I didn't ski down as I started descending at 8:30 am and the snow was too hard.

Great Mountain with great views.


lindazco


Question about Blue Lakes area?     2011-06-24 09:47:39
Your day looked fantastic - thanks for sharing. I have a backpacking trip coming up that includes the Blue Lakes area below Sneffels. What do you think the snowpack is like on that side near the lower and upper lakes?


benners


Nice!     2011-06-24 09:52:33
Good work crew. This line looks like a lot of fun, a good reason to repeat Sneffels!


pioletski



lindazco -     2011-06-24 10:19:50
That whole area is pretty solidly covered with snow above about 11,500 feet.


RoanMtnMan


Nice Guys!     2011-06-24 11:49:25
Good to see Jarrett's face on here again. I guess he is out of 14er ski retirement. Or at least CO 14ers.


Vailgirl


Nice work!!!     2011-06-24 16:57:27
Wow you guys make it look easy, looks like an amazing trip!!!


mtnbikerskierchick


I love it     2011-06-25 08:18:44
Once again, great TR Matt!


Dancesatmoonrise


Should have known...     2011-06-25 22:48:16
...who that purple sling and those nice turns belonged to!

Enjoyed a hot afternoon in the sun up there two days later...Gotta love crampons and shorts weather.

Gorgeous photos and fun TR, Matt.



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