Peak(s):  Mt. Sneffels  -  14,150 feet
Date Posted:  08/28/2007
Date Climbed:   08/26/2007
Author:  maverick_manley
 Tour de Sneffels... SW Ridge II (Classic) from Blue Lakes TH  

Mountains: Mt. Sneffels (14,150')
Route: Started at the Blue Lakes TH (9,340') and used the Blue Lakes Approach up to Blue Lakes Pass to summit via the SW Ridge... Descended the Blaine Basin Trail.
Elevation Gain - 5000' (approx)
Roundtrip Mileage - 12 miles (approx)
Roundtrip Time - 8 hours - 4:50 to summit, 40 minutes on summit, 2:30 to descend

After a long Saturday on Dallas <>, doumall and I headed straight for the Blue Lakes trailhead in preparation for an early start on Sneffels. We'd bought a ton of food at Telluride and devoured much of it before we bivvied out in the bushes behind the parking lot. We set the alarm for 1:30AM and went to bed at around 8:30PM. We woke up at 2AM, ate some bananas and a donut and were on the trail by 2:30AM. The blue lakes trail is long but efficient for a while, with decent elevation gain real quick. Close to the lower lake however, the trail presents a lot of up and down. It ended up being roughly 5 miles to Blue Lakes Pass. This will make a mind-blowing approach if you do it in the daytime; however since we were up on the ridge for sunrise we missed most of the scenery. The approach went quickly with the occasional stop for water/chocolate. We were up at Blue Lakes pass at 6AM. After a short break at the pass, we started heading up the ridge, staying below the pinnacles immediately North of the low point on the saddle. Staying below the ridge and heading North, we arrived at the following couloir leading up to a large notch in the ridge.


The sunrise was absolutely glorious. Weather was great...


From the notch we climbed up into a class 3 gully that led up to the ridge crest. This portion was easy Class 3. There is nothing exceedingly difficult on this ridge.


We topped out above the couloir and found ourselves on the crest of the SW Ridge. Here's what some of the climbing on the ridge looked like.



The exposure is not a lot and if you stay on the ridge crest, the climbing is barely class 3. If you follow the route which is a little below the ridge crest, the difficulty does not appear to exceed Class 2.



A shot of Dallas from close to the summit of Sneffels...


We summitted at 7:20AM...


Here's a look at the lakes from the summit...


We ate some food, got a bunch of pictures and were ready to leave at 8AM. We decided to descend the Blaine Basin Trail because it looked much shorter on the map and there did not seem to be any annoying elevation gain to deal with on the return.


We descended the standard route down to scree col from where we made our way towards Blaine Basin. Scree Col constitutes excellent scree and loose talus spewed over steep dirt and makes for an exciting 1.5 miles.



From scree col we were able to spot the Blaine Basin trail rather easily and made straight for it. The trail was a little shorter than the Blue Lakes trail with not much elevation gain on the return. A tour de Sneffels may be best done in the direction we did it. There are a few stream crossings on the Blaine Basin trail where crossing may not be very convenient, but apart from that the trail is very easy. We got back to the car at 10:30AM for a round trip time of 8 hours approx. A successful weekend in the San Juans.


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions
Brad Snider

Nice report
02/05/2011 00:22
This loop is exactly how I have been planning to climb Sneffels. You have the best beta for it that I've been able to find on the net. Nice pics and good report.



08/29/2007 16:38
Your on a mission man....


11/30/2010 17:28
Brad - It's a very scenic loop and rewarding hike

Rachel - Thanks for following my trip reports. Hope your hiking season is going well?


08/30/2007 18:18
I am planning on soloing this same route 9/8 to avoid the Imogene Pass Run closures on the other side. There really are not a lot of TRs from East Dallas Creek (or Blue Lakes) so this helps a bunch. Looks like you had an awesome day. Did you pick Blaine on the descent because it is shorter or just for variety?


GO Loops!
11/30/2010 17:28
Nice TR Prakash... you seem to leave out all the bs that I feed you on the trail, which is probably a good thing. But then you go and throw in a pic of me making Sneff my biiatch

Patinator: IMO loops are so much more interesting than back tracking an ascent. We did Blain on the descent due to its looser terrain, its shorter and it doesnt have nearly the 'up' that Blue Lakes has. Enjoy!


08/31/2007 01:25
you guys decided on Blue Lakes, thats the way to do it and camping there is something someone should do before they die. Good job finding the route back to Blaine Basin and completing the loop.


Good times
08/31/2007 04:23
Nice pics and report. That ridge looks like a lot of fun and the front runner for my route up Sneffels next summer.


11/30/2010 17:28
Awesome job, guys, and beautiful pics.

We look forward to that ridge this weekend. Sneffels is an awesome mountain. I think it's my No. 2 fav. Thanks for the beta.

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