My brother and I wanted to get a ski descent in this past weekend and agreed that Sneffels was our best bet. We were able to drive up to the mine Friday night and that is where we set up camp and attempt to get some sleep (it was quite the loud night due to all the activity at the mine). It wasn't too cold when we started at 5am, maybe a bit below freezing, and quickly warmed up once the sun hit us.
Camp for the night
The moon provided some assisted light to our headlamps
Starting the trek up
The SW ridge getting some sun
Taking a look at Gilpin on the way up
Right around 7:45am we were able to make it to the base of the Lavender col where we ended up meeting up with another party who was planning to do the Snake couloir.
Looking up Sneffels face and seeing the conditions of the Birthday Chutes and Lavender col
Starting the boot up Lavender Col
Not a bad day at all!
We were able to skin up the col about 1/3 of the way and then had to boot up due to the fact that the snow really hadn't softened up too much and we were slipping trying to skin up (there was a 3rd group skinning up while we were skiing down and the snow had softened enough for them to skin to the top of the col. While booting up, we assessed the conditions of the Birthday Chutes and determined that our best option would be the far skiers left because there was the least amount of debris in that chute and the line looked solid overall. The boot up the col was pretty easy and we were able to make it to the top in no time.
Top of Lavender Col
The base of the gully
The sun had become pretty intense by the time we reached the gully and it was a welcomed sight to see some shade! There was very minimal wind, if any, as well which made for very optimal climbing and skiing conditions.
Booting up the standard summer route
After a quick jaunt up the gully we reached the exit point and found that there were two possible exits. The group in front of us took the lower route while we tried to go straight up the chimney. After reaching a choke point in the chimney, I decided it would be best with skis on my back to down climb a bit and take the lower route.
The gully exit
Leaving the gully to gain the summit ridge
All we had left at this point was a short stroll to the summit and made it to the top around 9:20.
View of Gilpin with Telluride ski area in the background from the Summit
Gotta love the San Juans!
Taking in the beautiful views!
Looking down at the task at hand
We relaxed and chatted with the second party for about 40 minutes allowing the snow to soften up a bit and then we were on our way.
The other party entering the Snake couloir
We should've waited at least another half hour because the snow at the top was pretty bulletproof and it was a bit challenging to get an edge.
Getting ready to drop
Once we got down into the actual chute and off the main face, the snow was soft, smooth, and stable which made the skiing pretty awesome.
Entrance to the Birthday Chute
Jarrod getting after it
The conditions in the Lavender col on the other hand were nothing to write home about but it was still fun nonetheless! Try to hug the skiers right because thats where we found the best snow.
Skiing Lavender Col
Looking back at our route
Gilpin was looking mighty sexy by the time we got to the base of the col so we decided to skin back up and get some more turns in.
Skinning back up to get some extra credit on Gilpin
We were rewarded with some nice, soft corn and got in enough turns to make the trip back to the car very pleasant.
Nice, soft corn on Gilpin!
Shortly after 12pm we were back at camp and ready to indulge the ice cold beers waiting for us! Overall we were very pleased with the conditions because the dust layer was pretty much non-existant and the snow was incredibly stable and soft for the most part.