Peak(s):  Mt. Sneffels  -  14,150 feet
Date Posted:  07/26/2013
Date Climbed:   07/20/2013
Author:  JAK from GT
 Costume Party on Sneffels  

I have climbed many 14ers mostly in the San Juan's- just love that part of the country. I wanted to bring my brother in law (Flatlander from Florida) and a friend from work (fellow flatlander from Texas). Sneffels has always been one of my favorites because of the incredible valley you trek through to get to the scree ascent and the overall challenge of the rock climb and of course the V-notch. Plus you can't even begin to explain the scale of the view.
We started in Ridgway at 5AM to make sure that we could hit the peak well before noon as the prior day had massive downpours all afternoon in Ouray. The weather report showed a 70% chance of rain beginning at 2PM but that is probably a "default" forecast that gets produced when they don't have a clue about what will really happen.

We took the very drivable road to the lower trailhead. You could easily make it up there in a regular AWD SUV, but the Jeep was nice to have. There were about 4 cars there around 6AM and a few hikers had already.
The beginning of the hike is pretty simple and straightforward. The path is shared with more aggressive SUV and 4 wheel drivers, so for a walk it is pretty easy.

Only the excitement from the day that lay ahead caused us to start any early heavy breathing. Great waterfall and rushing water sound to accompany the Alpenglow off the tops of the peaks as the sun rose

Once you get past the first lake, the trail turns to a talus covered path that begins to break upward a bit. The almost crunchy sounds of sharp granite under your feet made me glad I slipped an extra insole into my boot to soften the blows. As you begin to work your way around the Lake it is very obvious and well-marked as to where to go in order to hit the standard ascent. There is a big sign with a map of the basin as well as a sign in sheet that later in the day the 4-wheelers began to aggregate around. The only issue you will have is figuring out a) where the heck is Sneffels I can't see it, b) I know there is a big scree scramble but I can't see where it begins and c) I see Kismet to my left and I can't believe that Sneffels is 426 feet higher than that monster!

The pillars on your right form what almost looks like a work of art - a mosaic that is hard to take your eyes from. Really just beautiful. You continue on the talus path doing a small amount of switchbacks and some short steeper grades, but nothing too difficult. That part is still ahead.

When we saw the group in front of us turn right and begin to attack the scree field, I knew it was about ready to be game-on and I need to get my game face on. The guys I was with were both in great shape and were prepared muscularly but nothing came prepare a flatlander for the chest explosion that comes from scrambling up that scree field. I recommended that we all wear gloves which helped a lot when it came to falling forward and grabbing hand holds when needed. Sometimes I would just rush 50 feet up to a target point and stop and wait for my heart to slow down before repeating it again and again. Most people say how much they hate this part of the climb and I have to agree-this really sucks.

By the time we made it to the top of the scree field we looked left and saw the imposing rock climb to the left. First of all, having been to this point in the past and having previously seen the couloir filled with snow I know how disappointing that was. So I was glad there was no snow this year. Having done this before I knew it was like solving a puzzle as you went mostly hands and feet up the couloir toward the V-notch. You would choose which rocks looked stable or were within reach of your hands or feet and would repeat this decision making all the way up the couloir.

When you arrived, fully exhausted near the top of the couloir you climbed a pretty short vertical section to a landing right below the V-notch.

The trick about the V-notch is the crazy feeling you have imagining yourself slipping into oblivion off the left edge of the landing area. You have to put your foot on a foothold where 6" to the left would result in a nice ride off the mountain. Once you place your foot on that spot and make the commitment with your right leg to stick your foot or your knee into the notch, you are fully committed and must use your upper body to pull yourself to the top and out of the notch. The only issue after that is the reverse of the process going down.

The rest of the climb is a meandering trail of large stable rocks that results in a very small, maybe 10' x 6' summit block with a few slightly lower outcroppings to sit on.

The view as you can imagine is incredible. You can see Telluride very clearly in the near distance. The scale of Sneffels becomes obvious as you look back toward the west and see how far the valley floor lies below. When you see how small Kismet Peak looks from up there, you realize your accomplishment and it feels great.

In fact, it feels so great, we decided to break out our party outfits and strike a pose!!!

...and led to a happy dance...rock on!! (Click)

 Comments or Questions

07/27/2013 05:11
Nice summit dance


Summit Photos
07/27/2013 09:51
You should have filmed the summit dance longer. It would probably have the the 2013 dance off. It still might.

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2017®, 14ers Inc.