Peak(s):  Mt. Sneffels  -  14,150 feet
Date Posted:  07/31/2007
Date Climbed:   07/27/2007
Author:  Old Ickabod

 Sneffels - Southwest Ridge  

As Summitridge and I have to return to work next week, we decided to go out with a bang with a trip to the San Juans. Our plan was Sneffels, Windom, Sunlight, North Eolus and Eolus in four days.

We arrived up in Yankee Boy Basin on Thursday night at about 7:30pm. We camped right out of the Jeep at about 11,100. There are a lot of good sites and it was different for us to have the Jeep and all of our gear available at a moments notice. After a great night sleep, we headed off at about 5:30am.

Mount Sneffels from Yankee Boy Basin

The signs were clear and the trail was excellent up into the Upper Basin. From there we got our first look at Sneffels Southwest Ridge. It looks burly, but it is an awesome route! We quickly ascended up to Blue Lakes Pass and studied the route from the Southwest.

The view of the Southwest Ridge Route from Blue Lakes Pass

We began heading up just below the cliffs on the left hand (west) side of the ridge. There is a good trail that is easy to follow. Please note there is a cairn way off to the west of the ridge. Ignore it and continue up along close to the towers on large talus aiming at the gap between two prominent towers.

Summitridge pauses before heading to the East side of the ridge

We gained the gap below the right tower and and dropped over to the right (East) side of the ridge. From there, we dropped down about 50 feet and ascended a loose couloir. This seemed to be the crux since we had to be extra cautious of rockfall.

Summitridge ascends the loose couloir

It was an easy Class 3 scramble up this couloir and we continued on large talus and a faint trail to again gain the right (East) side of the ridge. The route is well cairned.From there, we stayed about 50 feet below the ridge on the East side until it was obvious that the rock on the ridge was the most stable. Once we ascended up to the ridge it was phenomenal scrambling on extremely solid rock. There is exposure on both sides, but we couldn't help but snap some fun pictures on this spectacular ridge.

Summitridge performing his patented jig along the ridge

Ascending the spectacular Southwest Ridge

By 9am we topped out onto Sneffels spectacular summit. Three and a half hours for the ascent that included taking close to 40 pictures. Summitridge is working on publishing this route description and he was very purposeful about taking excellent photographs of the route.

Summitridge and another climber enjoying the summit

We descended the same route and came upon a group of four climbers belaying down the base of the crux back to the basin. One of the climbers had had their toe crushed by a boulder. We asked if we could help, but they said that they were doing O.K. and planned to get a ride back to their truck from one of the many four wheel drive vehicles in the upper basin.

Summitridge descending the loose couloir

We were back at camp by 10:30, packed up and headed to Durango for the Chicago Basin group.

The flowers are spectacular in Yankee Boy Basin

This is a phenomenal route with spectacular views. I haven't been up Lavender Col, but from the looks of it, it looks like a miserable scree slog up to the saddle. We heard several shouts of "Rock!" from the area as we ascended the Southwest Ridge.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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