Round Trip: 6 miles, 2,950 ft elevation gain
Hiking Time: About 6 hours
This years hiking trip to Colorado would only be five days due to personal and work related limitations. The first four days were in the Chicago Basin hiking the (4) 14ers over there, 4-H Climber provides his excellent account here: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=10430 I had one extra day left after that, so the next closest 14er would be Mt. Sneffels. For difficult peaks, the wife prefers I not hike solo. But since Mt. Sneffels is rated at only class 2, I thought this should be a relatively easy and safe way to finish the trip as a solo hike. Mt. Sneffels provided a bit more challenge then I anticipated .........
I had brought to Colorado an ice axe and climbing helmut and brought both for this hike. As is explained better in 4-H Climber's report, he had to leave a day early from the Chicago Basin, but he very graciously left his crampons for me to use as we saw some snow on Eolus from below the day before. Turns out I did not need them on Eolus. I packed them here for Mt. Sneffels, but I fully anticipated that the axe and crampons would be dead weight .......
As a summer climber, up to this point I have only carriend an ice axe for self arrest protection in case of crossing small snow fields if absolutely necessary. And amittidly as a cane on steep slippery grass, such as at the lower part of challenger. Upon reaching the upper gulley, voila - snow. Thus having 4-H Climber's crampons was very fortuitus as I would not have attempted without them. Having read, heard, and watched about snow climbs I thought this would be a great introduction climb to do, plus some other climbers were in the vicinity.
The climb was great, very easy as it is only a few hundred feet and steps were well cut in by the many others in the recent past. I decided to be careful and plunge the axe at each step. I felt great, and safe.
It was a bit discouraging however to see I was the only one of about a dozen or more climbers that had crampons, only one of two with an axe and helmut. Some used trekking poles, and some had none of the above. For snow climbs I'm a novice as I'm well admitting, so I was wondering if I was overly cautious, or not. Turns out, one person had an unintended and uncontrolled slide in the gulley as I was getting ready to downclimb the snow. Luckily he was OK and as I found out later he had skimmed a rock which rolled a bit with him to absorb the energy allowing him to stop.
The only technical move was at the crux and it was more difficult then I anticipated. Going up I rehearsed the downclimb on it a few times to remember where the footholds would be. Turns out I was able to get a visual spot anyway to confirm what I had rehearsed. So no problem.
Pictures and Conditions on the Climb:
Alpinglow in the Valley
Lavendar Colouir - Snow Free
Looking up the Upper Gulley from the Saddle
Climbers in the Upper Gulley
Starting up the Snow
On the Summit
Yankee Boy Basin
Heading Down the Upper Gulley
Mountain, Lake, and Flowers
Sucking some Exhaust on the Way Down
Overhang on Road out