Peak(s):  Mt. Sneffels  -  14,150 feet
Date Posted:  07/13/2011
Modified:  07/14/2011
Date Climbed:   07/12/2011
Author:  Wentzl
 SW Ridge Evening Hike  

I decided to go hiking after work yesterday and see if I could take advantage of the nearly full moon. It has been very stormy recently with active lightening most afternoons, but the forecast was for clearing skys by evening so I drove south from Montrose a little after 5:00 p.m. even though the sky looked dreadful.

It is about 1 1/2 hours to the trailhead and I was hiking in a light rain under a broken overcast sky by 6:30 p.m. I parked at the Wright's lake trail. The 4wd road is closed here and there is plenty of snow above so that it won't open soon. A look back from a few minutes up the trail
There was no lightening and the atmosphere felt stable and calm so I felt good about pressing on despite the clouds. I reached Blue Lake Pass on the lower trail which passes by Wright Lake in about an hour. A couple views from just below the pass.

Blue Lake Pass

The SW Ridge

Looking up Laverder Col

Getting a little way up the ridge, a look back down at Blue Lake Pass

And a look up at the looming summit. Looks far off, but usually takes under an hour from here.


About 1/3 of the way up the ridge the climbing becomes a little more serious. It was now a little after 7:30 p.m. and the weather was still cooperating. The summit alternated from being in view to being obscured by clouds and as I ascended I was in and out of a foggy soup. A real mixed bag of precipitation fell, light rain, hail, snow, sleet and the wind occasionally kicked up a bit, but overall still didn't seem too threatening. There was no thunder all night and hints of clear sky teased here and there.

The crux of the ridge has been well documented in other reports. There is something of a climbers trail that drops down 100 vertical feet or so but this can be bypassed by directly climbing a short 5th class pitch of about 30’. The following photos show that pitch from below and then from above. With the snow on this section of the ridge an axe would be useful if traversing under this pitch. With care I managed to get onto it without.



I reached the summit before 8:30 with enough time to enjoy a beautiful lightshow of the sunset and the mist and clouds.




A look at the descent from the summit. Lavender Col, Kismet Pk and Wright Lake all visible.


The descent was fun down the snow filled couloir. The long scree field that is usually somewhat difficult was actually a joyful romp because so much recent rain had made it easy by softening the ground making it spongy and absorbing each footfall so you could almost heel step as if on snow or loose scree.

I carried a headlamp and hoped to have ambient light from the nearly full moon. As it turned out, the moon never did make an appearance from behind the cloud cover and I managed to get back to my truck just as it became dark enough to need artificial light. I never did turn it on.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

07/14/2011 00:27
Impressive work. Sounds like you made good time to be back before you needed a light. I'm surprised more people don't do this: start hiking in the late afternoon after the thunderstorms. Or even at like noon if there aren't going to be any storms.


Appreciate the report!
07/14/2011 18:14
Heading down to Sneffels Friday night for a Saturday early ascent. Would you recommend crampons or would microspikes do the job? Thanks,

Dr. Dave


07/14/2011 18:51
There was a virtual ladder made of footprints in the snow up from Lavender Col and an axe and good stiff boots would do. Microspikes if you like the security. Crampons would be, IMO, overkill. Have fun.


07/14/2011 19:56
Will bring the spikes and leave the extra weight of the crampons behind. Much appreciated.

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