| Mt. Sneffels - From Yankee Boy Basin
This being the summer monsoon, and not wanting to waste a trip from Boulder to Ouray (6+ hours) and not summit due to weather, we watched the weather – the Ouray area steadily predicting 50% precipitation with T-storms all week. With school starting soon, and school prep activities ramping up, this was our last available weekend … the Griswolds needed to get away.
We headed up CR361, and drove over the 'shelf' road with the rock cutout … pretty cool 8) .
We drove up CR361 about 6.8 miles (just before the Governor Basin / Yankee Boy Basin signed junction) to the three or four paid camp spots. Beyond this point, a sign states, no camping is permitted. Since it was Saturday, and we expected more camping traffic, we gladly ponied up ten bucks to camp for the night (right below the mine).
It rained a bit that evening, and we were hoping for the normal 14er clear morning. Kept checking: stars at 11PM, cloud cover at midnight, stars at 1 AM, … woke up to full cloud cover at 5AM.
From our camp site, we drove an additional ~1.3 miles to the 'restroom parking' (@11,200'?). The road was easily passable by 4wd vehicles except for the drainage ditches which were trenched across the road to drain storm water. Our Ford Exporer's hitch unavoidably bottomed out on some of them.
We started @ 11200 at 6am under a clouded sky, and had the trail to ourselves. @ 12,400; we met up with some hikers – with their 4WD SUV (Stock Toyota product).
On the scree slope up to Lavender Col we stayed to the left, were there was a good trail in the rocky section – this kept us out of the scree. It also started to lightly drizzle around 0730, but we kept mindful of the cloud buildup … if we could see even a faint patch of blue somewhere above us we'd figure that we'd be ok … and besides, we planned for a 8:30-ish summit, hopefully long before any major storm build-up.
At 13,500' we turned up the rather wet couloir. The Griswolds are at the Class 2+ to 3 stage in their hiking career, so this stuff was starting to get fun.
We were unprepared for the amount of snow in the upper gully. Gloves would have been nice (of course we packed them, but when you're cruising up, who wants to stop?) And the Griswolds were also prepared with helmuts … but with no other traffic in the gully, most of the fam opted not to don their helmuts. I followed last, and did wear my helmut … Amy (mom) is notorious for launching stuff.
The upper 150' was still filled with snow and was a bit of a challenge. Hannah motored up the center, kicking footsteps for the rest of us. Amy was uncomfortable at first, feeling that self-arresting was probably not an option if she slipped, but the snow was very soft and good footholds could be made … then she seemed to get the hang of it, following Hannah's steps.
Then the notch … I pondered this for the last year after reading Aubry's 2006 trip report … you see I'm trying to get over this little exposure thing. Turned out to be no problem.
After the notch, there is about 150' of climbing … minimal exposure.
Amy on summit #37…
As we were approaching the notch going down, two sets of climbers broke out of the gully about 300' below the notch and climbed west of the couloir. This bypassed the snow and notch.
After passing the snow section at the top of the couloir, I could finally relax and take in the view …
Back down the scree slope, we saw the remainder of the hikers on their way up. Overall, we saw about 18 other people on Sneffels that day.
We enjoyed the afternoon in Ouray and stayed at the Best Western … which seemed to be filled with off-road motorheads. We are happy with our minimalist approach … our 10-yr old Ford, our tent, and our legs … and didn't have to look too far to really appreciate our simple mobility …
Back down 1200
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