| Sneffels - SW Ridge
Mt. Sneffels, viewed from Hwy 62 (just east of Dallas Divide, I believe), taken the previous afternoon:
On the evening before climbing El Diente and Mt. Wilson, while hanging out at our Navajo Lake campsites, Jen and I learned that Astrobassman (Colin) and New England Kid (Anne) had the same desire to climb Mt. Sneffels‘ southwest ridge. So we all decided to meet up the following morning at 6 a.m. in Yankee Boy Basin.
After spending a highfalutin night in Ouray (indoor plumbing, bed, hot food, beer, etc.), we drove up the dark road toward Yankee Boy Basin. We were glad to see stars, as the night before saw some heavy rain and lightning.
Not far up the road we noticed Anne‘s car off to the right. She seemed surprised that we found her because she thought she was off the main road (she drove up in the dark, the previous evening). She hopped in the back of the "Xtra" and we continued further up the road in search of Colin. Found him sleeping in the back of his Pathfinder.
It wasn‘t until about 6:30 a.m. when the four of us finally started hiking up the trail. The weather couldn‘t have been better.
The scenery was magnificent, and it was comfortably familiar (Jen and I have been up Sneffels 1.75 times before).
The trail was easy to follow and there‘s a sign marking the way to Blue Lakes Pass.
Jen and Anne in front of an alpenglow-splashed Gilpin Peak:
Once we gained the Blue Lakes Pass, we pretty much just hung a right and aimed for the high point. There was a trail at first, and cairns marked a good portion of the way.
There seemed to be at least a couple "mini gullies" on the route. I think we took the one on the right. None of the climbing exceeded Class 3. It was mostly solid and completely fun.
As we got up higher, Jen and Colin seemed eager to climb, and they pushed on to a point where they thought it was going to cliff out. Just behind them and to the right, there was a notch that emptied into a gully. I noticed a cairn down below, so we ended up climbing down that little gully. (We had also printed out some previous trip reports from Maverick Manley and Hokie Jim, if I remember correctly, which were helpful. One of them mentioned this downclimb to avoid the tall spires on the ridge‘s crest.)
We ended up climbing down 75 feet or so, then hanging a hard left, where we started up another small gully.
Anytime you look behind you on this route, you can‘t help but smile:
After getting up that short gully, Jen just kept going straight up the rock and gained the ridge. There was an easier route that skirted up to the left, but we all decided it was a good time to get that party started, so we followed.
From that point on, the rock was really nice -- solid and grippy, with good hand and foot holds pretty much the entire way up. Some sections reminded me of North Eolus.
At times, exposure became pretty healthy, and I remember crossing at least a couple sections that were only a couple feet wide, with sheer drop-offs. I think some of those sections offered lower options, but the ridge was too fun to leave. And I wasn‘t about to cash in solid rock with exposure for sketchy rock ledges.
It was a bluebird day! Sunny, nice temps, and just a light breeze. It felt good. And the company of Anne and Colin couldn‘t have been better. Really glad we got to climb with those two. It just made the journey that much more fun.
Jen and I on the summit:
The four of us all seemed to agree: This was a really fun route. It was also pretty easy (relatively speaking), and the effort-vs.-reward ratio was as good as it gets.
As we hiked back through the V-notch, I noticed a new rock at its base. The last time I climbed back through this notch I didn‘t remember it being so easy. I thought I had grown 5 inches since last year. But, later, Jen also mentioned how there were big rocks below the notch that weren‘t there before. "Steps," if you will. They made it much easier getting down the thing, but we kind of felt cheated.
After slipping and sliding down the Lavender, it was a leisurely stroll back down to the truck.
I highly recommend this route. Quite a bit of fun, and not very taxing.
I leave you with three photos stitched together:
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):