| A Little Nerve-Wracking on Mount Sneffels
Reports of Mount Sneffels and some of the pictures from the previous TRs had me a little anxious about attempting this hike alone. I had done 34 14er peaks and 57 ascents before this, but I had myself psyched-out for some reason. I think the highest rated areas I had done before this were Mount Lindsey and the Sawtooth.
The opportunity came to leave work early on Friday, 15 July, so I packed up the jeep that morning and took off Friday afternoon for the 6-hour drive to Ouray and the Yankee Boy Basin TH. The drive was long but enjoyable.
The drive up to the TH was not bad and I did not think the road exposure was as bad as that leading up to Redcloud and Sunshine peaks. Here is a picture showing a stretch that is carved into the cliff (
Road exposure up to Yankee Boy Basin>). I drove an additional half-mile or so above the lower TH and found a nice spot to set up my tent by some pines, a raging creek below, and squeaking Marmots all around (
Welcoming Marmots in Basin>)(
A great campsite>). I took some pictures of wild flowers that evening and on the trip back down from the hike(
Wild flowers as far as the eye can see!>). It is amazing how full with color the basin is. I now understand why others have called this their favorite area.
After a fair night’s sleep, I awoke at 4 AM. By 5 AM I was hiking up the road. You can drive up to about ½ mile before the upper TH, but there remains one long and deep snowdrift that no one has tried to plow through yet. I only needed my headlamp while I was packing up. The moon was bright enough to hike by until dawn. The views were amazing as the sun came up(
A beautiful sunrise in the basin>).
TRs from this site and the Roach guide made route finding easy. The scree and talus mixed hill to the ridge is not much fun either up or down, but goes pretty fast (
The mixed scree and talus route>). I met some nice people from Colorado Fourteener’s Initiative who were arriving for trail work as I was starting up the scree. They warned me about the snow in the couloirs and said there had been a few slides and falls by those not prepared. I really appreciate the hard work these folks put into fixing up the trails to save the 14er environment.
There is still snow in the upper area of the couloirs (
Remaining snow in the couloir>). There are steps dug into the snow, but I was still grateful for my ice axe and microspikes. Once I reached the top of the snow, I saw the V-notch and worked my way through (
The V-Notch>). It was a little hairy going up the snow and through the notch, but not as much as I expected, or had worked myself up for.
I was the first to summit for the day, which made me feel good. I am slow and had really taken my time going up (also going down), it took me almost 3 ½ hours each way. After a few phone calls and really enjoying the awe-inspiring views (
View from the top 1>)(
View from the top 2>), I started back down.
The climb back down was much worse than going up. Going back through the V was not too bad, but the snowfield was rough for me. The snow had begun to soften and some of the footholds were slushy on top while retaining ice underneath. Again, I was grateful for my ice axe. Being able to anchor as I slowly moved down gave me the confidence I needed. If the heat continues, I would guess the snow will mostly disappear in the next two weeks or so.
The rest of the hike down was uneventful, but beautiful. There were many people on their way up and many more just enjoying the numerous waterfalls and bountiful wild flowers. I was surprised by the number of people I saw heading for the couloirs with tennis shoes, shorts, t-shirts, and little else. I hope they all came out ok.
So I made it past one of the easier of the harder peaks according to the guides. It was an awesome hike and I am looking forward to many more. I think the next one might be Wetterhorn… Guess we will see.
Happy hiking all!
PS. I had trouble deciding which of the awesome pics to put in this report, so I added a few more here:
A rainbow in the falls,
A view in the Yankee Boy Basin,
Another basin view,
One of the many falls,
More and more wildflowers.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):