Peak(s):  Mt. Sneffels  -  14,150 feet
Date Posted:  07/17/2011
Date Climbed:   07/16/2011
Author:  DScott49
 A Little Nerve-Wracking on Mount Sneffels  

Reports of Mount Sneffels and some of the pictures from the previous TRs had me a little anxious about attempting this hike alone. I had done 34 14er peaks and 57 ascents before this, but I had myself psyched-out for some reason. I think the highest rated areas I had done before this were Mount Lindsey and the Sawtooth.

The opportunity came to leave work early on Friday, 15 July, so I packed up the jeep that morning and took off Friday afternoon for the 6-hour drive to Ouray and the Yankee Boy Basin TH. The drive was long but enjoyable.

The drive up to the TH was not bad and I did not think the road exposure was as bad as that leading up to Redcloud and Sunshine peaks. Here is a picture showing a stretch that is carved into the cliff (Image
Road exposure up to Yankee Boy Basin
). I drove an additional half-mile or so above the lower TH and found a nice spot to set up my tent by some pines, a raging creek below, and squeaking Marmots all around (Image
Welcoming Marmots in Basin
A great campsite
). I took some pictures of wild flowers that evening and on the trip back down from the hike(Image
Wild flowers as far as the eye can see!
). It is amazing how full with color the basin is. I now understand why others have called this their favorite area.

After a fair night's sleep, I awoke at 4 AM. By 5 AM I was hiking up the road. You can drive up to about mile before the upper TH, but there remains one long and deep snowdrift that no one has tried to plow through yet. I only needed my headlamp while I was packing up. The moon was bright enough to hike by until dawn. The views were amazing as the sun came up(Image
A beautiful sunrise in the basin

TRs from this site and the Roach guide made route finding easy. The scree and talus mixed hill to the ridge is not much fun either up or down, but goes pretty fast (Image
The mixed scree and talus route
). I met some nice people from Colorado Fourteener's Initiative who were arriving for trail work as I was starting up the scree. They warned me about the snow in the couloirs and said there had been a few slides and falls by those not prepared. I really appreciate the hard work these folks put into fixing up the trails to save the 14er environment.

There is still snow in the upper area of the couloirs (Image
Remaining snow in the couloir
). There are steps dug into the snow, but I was still grateful for my ice axe and microspikes. Once I reached the top of the snow, I saw the V-notch and worked my way through (Image
The V-Notch
). It was a little hairy going up the snow and through the notch, but not as much as I expected, or had worked myself up for.

I was the first to summit for the day, which made me feel good. I am slow and had really taken my time going up (also going down), it took me almost 3 hours each way. After a few phone calls and really enjoying the awe-inspiring views (Image
View from the top 1
View from the top 2
), I started back down.

The climb back down was much worse than going up. Going back through the V was not too bad, but the snowfield was rough for me. The snow had begun to soften and some of the footholds were slushy on top while retaining ice underneath. Again, I was grateful for my ice axe. Being able to anchor as I slowly moved down gave me the confidence I needed. If the heat continues, I would guess the snow will mostly disappear in the next two weeks or so.

The rest of the hike down was uneventful, but beautiful. There were many people on their way up and many more just enjoying the numerous waterfalls and bountiful wild flowers. I was surprised by the number of people I saw heading for the couloirs with tennis shoes, shorts, t-shirts, and little else. I hope they all came out ok.

So I made it past one of the easier of the harder peaks according to the guides. It was an awesome hike and I am looking forward to many more. I think the next one might be Wetterhorn... Guess we will see.
Happy hiking all!

PS. I had trouble deciding which of the awesome pics to put in this report, so I added a few more here: Image
A rainbow in the falls
, Image
A view in the Yankee Boy Basin
, Image
Another basin view
, Image
And another
, Image
One of the many falls
, Image
More wildflowers
, Image
More and more wildflowers

Dr. Dave

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

07/17/2011 21:53
on your solo hike, and getting past the question, ”can I do this alone” worries. You'll probably enjoy Wetterhorn just as much!
Good luck out there!


Sneffels Questions
07/17/2011 21:58
Thanks for the trip report! Any idea what the North? Ridge (I'm not sure what it's called, but I'm probably close) of Sneffels is rated or where I can find some more info on it? I can't seem to find it online...yet. Climbing those towers looks like fun.

Is your picture titled ”A view in the Yankee Boy Basin” another view of Sneffels or is that another peak?


Eagle eye 1

Yankee Boy Basin
07/17/2011 23:51
Makes one really appreciate Gods beauty for us to see ay
I love that place, so clean, pure, and natural. Great pictures.


Good job on Sneffels
07/18/2011 00:52
I may have seen you Saturday, I summited about 9:30. I also did not care for the snowfield on the descent. I had microspikes and an ice axe and was grateful for both of them. You took some very nice pictures!

Brian C

Sneffles Question
07/18/2011 03:16
Chad - Are you thinking of the North Buttress? If so, I believe Roach rates it 5.6. Supposedly it's a great climb with some questionable rock. I'd like to get down there and climb it sometime soon.


great TR and pics
07/18/2011 14:33
Congrats on your success and for having the brains to go in prepared. Sneffels is one of my favorites.


Great Pictures
07/18/2011 15:19
Sneffels was my first 14er.....harder than I thought it would be, but still made it.
Your pictures are great! I particularly like the one from the summit looking toward Blue Lakes (I think)


Road Status?
07/18/2011 19:15
I will be doing Sneffels in about 3 weeks... How far do you think a 2WD passenger car can make it up the road? Can I make it to the bathrooms, or should I plan on a longer hike?


Thanks for the encouragement!
07/19/2011 14:44
Thanks all, it really was a great hike and I am looking forward to Wetterhorn and improving my class 3 skills. cjvvjc, The only pictures that I posted where you can kind of see the peak are the couloir view, and the scree trail. The peak is to the left and not well distinguished from those views. I also think Brian answered you as well as I could about the North ridge question. Tornadoman; some passenger cars made it up pretty close to the bathrooms. The road is rough as you get close, but with care you can probably get near if not to the bathrooms. When I was stationed here at Fort Carson I used to run around to the trailheads with an old Ford Escort... that thing made it to many places it probably shouldn't have

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