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 Peak(s):  Mt. Sneffels  -  14,150 feet
 Post Date:  04/20/2009 Modified: 04/21/2009
 Date Climbed:   04/20/2000
 Posted By:  Easy Rider

 Lavender Couloir   

I was unable to rally a partner again. I had a pretty clear plan, and decided to just follow through since the weather was going to be nice. I left Gunnison by midnight, no strings attached. Lots of deer on Hwy 50. This was my first time to Ouray. Moonlit peaks closed in claustrophobically from all sides, and ice hung over the road everywhere. It was closing time, and a few people were out in the streets. I passed through to the south end of town and found the Camp Bird road. It was a narrow shelf that was ploughed up to a steep switchback; not as far as I would have hoped, but it was still very early, (4:00 am) and I could probably afford the extra distance. It was a crisp night under a full moon, the kind that can lead you out there in curiosity. There were a couple people camping at the upper TH.


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I took a minute to get my bearings lined up as I continued into the upper basin. I had been tempted to head for the Dyke Col at first, but then followed the path of least resistance back left and things sorted out.

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Sneffels was the last peak to come into view. The sky lightened just as the moon fell behind Gilpin, which continued to hold a strange aura with a reflection off Kismet. Once in upper Yankee Boy Basin, everything became clear, and if I had any doubt, the sun lit the summit like candles on a cake. I put crampons on and situated my board so I would not have to do so further up on the slope.

Gilpin
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It was very firmly frozen snow under a few inches of light fluff. Hard boots or rigid crampons would be nice for this aspect to the Lavender Col. The second section ascends a steep, narrow chute from the col, and had been getting sun on one side already. A couple of exposed movements were needed to exit, and I had left my board anchored there.

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Uncompahgre was backlit to the east.

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The summit ridge felt very lofty after the protection of the couloir, and I could see from the West Elks to the La Sals. Telluride and the Wilsons are just over the other side of Gilpin.

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I looked again for an entrance to the chute, but no dice. The Birthday Chute was the only way off the true summit. I was at about 14,000 at the upper col when I strapped in. Riding the upper couloir was intimidating at first, the snow was barely soft enough. From the Col I relaxed my turns, and sailed out to the middle of the basin for breakfast.

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I met the group that had camped out at the TH in Lower Yankee. At the time I thought they had missed the window, but realize now that they probably had hit it right for softer turns, since it was frozen so hard that night. Anyway, I enjoyed good flotation, and cruising the road out.

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I split the board once, then soon reassembled, and walked a couple dry patches along the overhang, then cruised the rest to car.

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Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
sgladbach


Nice job!     2010-11-30 10:20:24
The day looks beautiful. If there were two parties there, the place is open! I'm glad the San Juan season has begun.


SchralpTheGnar


Great TR!     2009-04-21 15:17:19
Nice solo outing. What were the round trip stats (mileselevation ime) from where you had to start hiking?


Easy Rider


The Season     2009-04-21 20:12:14
Although this is a report from nine years ago, the conditions are almost identical this year. Sorry for the lack of concrete numerical beta, I leave that to the guidebooks. The switchback I referred to in my journal was at about 9,100 ft. That was one of my best and first big days, but still had a lot to learn about ethical standards of summit descents. You may have noticed that the Birthday Chutes are actually in condition in photo # 9. Sneffels is one peak I could happily go back to again and again.



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