| Tour de Sneffels… SW Ridge II (Classic) from Blue Lakes TH
Mountains: Mt. Sneffels (14,150')
Route: Started at the Blue Lakes TH (9,340') and used the Blue Lakes Approach up to Blue Lakes Pass to summit via the SW Ridge… Descended the Blaine Basin Trail.
Elevation Gain - 5000' (approx)
Roundtrip Mileage - 12 miles (approx)
Roundtrip Time - 8 hours - 4:50 to summit, 40 minutes on summit, 2:30 to descend
After a long Saturday on Dallas < http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=3705&np=67&cpgm=tripmain>, doumall and I headed straight for the Blue Lakes trailhead in preparation for an early start on Sneffels. We'd bought a ton of food at Telluride and devoured much of it before we bivvied out in the bushes behind the parking lot. We set the alarm for 1:30AM and went to bed at around 8:30PM. We woke up at 2AM, ate some bananas and a donut and were on the trail by 2:30AM. The blue lakes trail is long but efficient for a while, with decent elevation gain real quick. Close to the lower lake however, the trail presents a lot of up and down. It ended up being roughly 5 miles to Blue Lakes Pass. This will make a mind-blowing approach if you do it in the daytime; however since we were up on the ridge for sunrise we missed most of the scenery. The approach went quickly with the occasional stop for water/chocolate. We were up at Blue Lakes pass at 6AM. After a short break at the pass, we started heading up the ridge, staying below the pinnacles immediately North of the low point on the saddle. Staying below the ridge and heading North, we arrived at the following couloir leading up to a large notch in the ridge.
The sunrise was absolutely glorious. Weather was great…
From the notch we climbed up into a class 3 gully that led up to the ridge crest. This portion was easy Class 3. There is nothing exceedingly difficult on this ridge.
We topped out above the couloir and found ourselves on the crest of the SW Ridge. Here's what some of the climbing on the ridge looked like.
The exposure is not a lot and if you stay on the ridge crest, the climbing is barely class 3. If you follow the route which is a little below the ridge crest, the difficulty does not appear to exceed Class 2.
A shot of Dallas from close to the summit of Sneffels…
We summitted at 7:20AM…
Here's a look at the lakes from the summit…
We ate some food, got a bunch of pictures and were ready to leave at 8AM. We decided to descend the Blaine Basin Trail because it looked much shorter on the map and there did not seem to be any annoying elevation gain to deal with on the return.
We descended the standard route down to scree col from where we made our way towards Blaine Basin. Scree Col constitutes excellent scree and loose talus spewed over steep dirt and makes for an exciting 1.5 miles.
From scree col we were able to spot the Blaine Basin trail rather easily and made straight for it. The trail was a little shorter than the Blue Lakes trail with not much elevation gain on the return. A tour de Sneffels may be best done in the direction we did it. There are a few stream crossings on the Blaine Basin trail where crossing may not be very convenient, but apart from that the trail is very easy. We got back to the car at 10:30AM for a round trip time of 8 hours approx. A successful weekend in the San Juans.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):