Having hiked San Luis plus a 3 hour drive to Ouray the day before, waking up at 4am was tough to come by on day 2. Sneffels was the plan for the day and we knew it would much more difficult because of the extensive snow pack. We drove to the lower TH and geared up. Crampons, Ice Axe and Snowshoes were in order for the day. However, in hindsight we did not need the snowshoes. The snow was firm enough to withstand our weight and it was easy enough to walk on top with minimal postholing. There were several water crossings at the bottom portion of road that were somewhat difficult to navigate. On the retrun trip the water crossings were higher and faster than in the morning so keeping our feet dry was impossible.
At lower TH, geared loaded up and ready to go.
One of many stream crossings.
It took about an hour to make the upper TH because of the snow. We could not follow the road so the easiest route seemed to be to "island hop" from clear spot to clear spot straight up the slope. Again it was easy enough to stay on top of the snow since most areas were still frozen at this time of day.
"Island hopping" straight up the slope to the upper TH.
At the upper TH
After gaining the upper TH, route finding became an issue as the snow depth increased. It was tricky to stay on trail as most of it was buried. The Lavender Col we were searching for did not turn out to be visible from the bottom of the Yankee Boy Basin. What seemingly appeared to be the Col visible in front of us most of the way to this point did not turn out to be any where near correct. Continuing west through the basin, we final saw the objective beyond and to the right of a rock outcropping.
Searching for the route to the Col. Need to head toward the saddle.
Upper part of the Basin. The next directional sign is in the rock clearing
At the entrance to the lower Col
We donned crampons and our ice axes for the climb up the Col. The sun was out and this became the warmest part of the climb to this point. It took about 45 min to gain the ridge before the left turn to the upper col.
Time to gear up for the ascent up the Col
Up we go single file with another group.
About halfway up the lower Col.
Almost to the ridge before the upper Col (in upper left of picture).
At the ridge of the lower Col. Two climbers can be seen in the upper Col ahead.
On the ridge heading to the upper Col. Only 2 of us would make the trip.
The upper section was steep despite the appearance in the photos but using well established footprints made the climb manageable.
Starting the upper Col.
About 1/4 the way up in decent snow.
About 1/2 way up looking back down the to the ridge.
Slow go but making progress.
Once at the top of the Col it was not possible to pass the the V notch due to snow. We made a couple class 3 rock moves to get around the obstacles, then passed another small snow field and finally gained the top.
At the top next to the "V" notch. Can't go that way!
The alternate route over the rock at the top.
Almost to the top.
Crossing the final snow field.
Yes it's Telluride.
Uncompahgre & Wetterhorn
The wind was howling pretty good so we only stayed up top for 15 minutes or so. With no threat of weather we took our time coming down that included glissading down the lower Col.
Carefully heading back down the upper Col.
More glissading or did I fall?
Hiking back down...
We made it back to the car by 2pm and consumed some victory beers. All in all a spectacular day.
Back at the TH
The drive back out on the shelf road...a vehicle under the hanging rock.