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 Peak(s):  Mt. Sneffels  -  14,150 feet
 Post Date:  08/15/2011
 Date Climbed:   08/11/2011
 Posted By:  Tornadoman

 Sneffels: Some Solid Ridge and Some Loose Gully   

Climbers- Me/Andrew (tornadoman); Jessica (trailrunner)

After climbing El Diente on Tuesday we took a well earned day off on Wednesday. We had initially been intending to climb Sneffels from the Dallas Creek trailhead; but due to fatigue and somewhat uncertain weather conditions we decided to save time and energy and go after it from Yankee Boy Basin. It is a rough road for a passenger vehicle, but we made it safely up 6.9 miles to where the road forms a "Y". If you have high clearance you can continue to the right up route 853 1B; if the road gets tough there are fairly frequent turnouts. This Ruby Mine sign is in the middle of the road at the "Y", (shown on the descent).

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Ruby Mine Sign


The sign for Route "853 1B" is on the right side of the road and difficult to see in the dark, but is clear in the day as seen on our descent.

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Road 853 1B


After this the walk up the road begins.

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There is an option to take a spur to Wright's Lake. We stuck with the road and it was very pleasant as it wound through beautiful Yankee Boy Basin.

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As we reached the high trailhead (do not attempt to get there without a good 4WD vehicle) we heard a clicking sound above. There was a herd of bighorn sheep moving over the loose rocks above.

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At this point the Southwest Ridge will loom ahead and looks nearly impossible.... fortunately, it isn't that difficult!

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The wildlife was plentiful as we headed toward Blue Lakes Pass.

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A cute little pika


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Marmot fight!


The trail uneventfully winds to Blue Lakes Pass, where we stopped to put on the helmets.

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From here head toward the prominent notch in the picture below. This climbing is pretty easy, usually class 2+ with a few class 3 moves thrown in.

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After sneaking through another gully or two you will reach a notch.

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I approach the notch


You will have to pass through the notch and drop down into this gully.

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Jessica dropping into the gully


After descending a little bit this gully reaches a much larger gully which you will need to ascend. There was snow in this area but it could be avoided on the left side.

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Looking up at the snow



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Jessica ascending rocks around the snow


After getting past the snow we faced the hardest upclimb of the day.

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The steepest section


We head through the notch

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And there are many options to head toward the summit.

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I know that most people head to the ridge top, but we found a nice and occasionally cairned traverse on a lower line and followed it.

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Eventually we made our way to the summit.

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Nearing the Summit


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Success!


We decided to descend the standard route. However, we didn't like the look of the upper notch/gully. Instead we followed occasional cairns down great class 2 and 3 rocks paralleling the notch.

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Great rock on the descent


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The notch/high gully that we avoided


Finally cairns lead us down to the gully. We were glad to miss all the terrain above us, as there were a few people and a dog up there and rockfall potential seemed high.

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Finally into the gully.


The route will then reach a saddle between Sneffels and Kismet, and you will descend another wider but still loose gully. At one point a yell of "rock" went out from above us, and we saw a microwave sized rock tumbling. Fortunately it stopped well before us, but it was a good reminder to wear a helmet in this area. Out of 20 or so climbers we were the only two who had helmets.

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Into the second gully.


Storm clouds were also gathering at this time and we were glad to be headed down. Several other people were climbing and seemed oblivious. I don't know how bad the weather was on the mountain but we did get a little rain as we drove back down the road to Ouray.

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Yankee Boy Basin is beautiful and the easy finish walking down the road was very pleasant.

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Overall this was a great climb. The Southwest Ridge was mostly solid with a few different options depending on your liking. The standard route is loose and junky. Sticking to the side of the upper gully where possible is definitely the way to go!



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
DeTour


Nice read     2011-08-15 21:20:27
And +1 on staying out of the gully on the way down. We did virtually the same route - southwest ridge up, and what I called the ”south face” down, parallel to the upper gully. Didn't hit the standard route until we were almost down to Lavender Col. Once on the standard route, we wished we were somewhere else. Nasty loose!


GraceU2DSummit

Agreed!     2011-08-17 20:35:44
Surprised the South-West Ridge isn't the ”standard” route

That route is SOOOOO much more fun! Myself and two others did the same route last Sat. It was so much fun. We even got to play around with some class four and five moves, just because we wanted to.

Watched a rock get knocked down the steep scree. Could have killed one of the few people that were below. Not good!

Love Yankee Boy Basin. It is incredibly beautiful right now!


jmanner


Thanks!     2011-09-12 19:32:12
Thanks for the great report! The wife and I are going to do the same routes up and down this coming weekend and its nice to see what it looks like. I'm really looking forward to it!



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