Peak(s):  Mt. Sneffels  -  14,150 feet
Date Posted:  05/29/2009
Date Climbed:   05/25/2009
Author:  burningthebushes

 The Slippery Snake  

n_stitz and I headed out just after 4AM. We missed the trail at the first creek crossing and crossed where the ATV trail crosses. We both got a little wet, but not bad. Remember, the trail’s on the right about 100’ before the creek. There were still a few good patches of snow that slowed progress higher on the trail. We made the basin around 6.
The Objective:
We worked the 1500+’ up to the couloir on a fresh layer of snow. Crampons went on quickly as we moved up the snowfield. I took my turn breaking trail and finally stopped for a snack at the bottom of the snake at 8:30.
Neil kicked his way up to the bend by 9:30 as we kept a steady pace.
The couloir is steepest at the bend…
and comes complete with cornice…
and nice, tight choke.
We plugged along to almost the top of the couloir. We decided to take the gully before the summit. It was steep to the ridge and turned up for the last five feet. We topped the ridge and worked through the snow-covered rock to the summit and it’s awesome views.
Teakettle and Cirque
After enjoying the views we headed down. This time we took Roach’s advice and dropped east off the summit and then cut back to the snake. A very exposed snow slope made for a quite exciting 40’ traverse.
The snow was stable and soon I had made a nice path for Neil. We were ready for the decent.
With 6-8” of fresh snow we decided we could safely glissade right back into the basin. We dropped the crampons and I led the charge. About 200’ down we ran into the only other soul on the peak. He was quite thrilled by the great boot track and was making good time. We shared the beta we had and continued on. Just above the bend the snow got icy. I took it slow, but not slow enough. I took my axe out to start moving and took off. Immediately I rolled over to arrest, but when I stuck the pick in, the axe ripped right out of my hands, right above the choke! I watched the rocks on the side of the choke some how not catch me. I barreled on staring at the next wall with my name on it. Everything happened so fast yet I had plenty of time to try to steer, dig in to slow down, shit my pants, and remember Pyramid. Finally I spread out enough and dug in enough to stop. I shook it off and started yelling for Neil to be super careful, grab my axe, and don’t screw up like I just did. I yelled for a few minutes before he appeared above the choke, down climbing.
10 minutes later he glissaded down to my stance and all was well. We headed down to the basin as the weather rolled back onto the peak. Good luck dude.
We were back at the TH about 1:50. Killer route on a killer peak. I hate to be another reminder of how dangerous glissading is. I’m just glad I came out unscathed.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Exciting Day!
02/05/2011 00:22
Nice TR Andy, that icy glissade sure was sketchy, I was surprised to see you at the bottom of the couloir so soon and your unattended axe. It was an awesome climb and I‘m glad we both made it out safely.


Out of control
11/30/2010 17:28
Same thing happened to me in the OB Couloir last year. Conditions seemed more than good for a controlled glissade but when my axe bit into the ice below the softer snow it was ripped from my hand. Somehow I was able to retrieve it while rocketing down the slope and arrest. My shoulder hurt for months after that. I'm much more hesitant to glissade these days, just ain't worth it! Glad everything turned out OK for you. Did you gave the axe tethered to you?


05/31/2009 20:03
Nicely done gents glad you both made it out ok! It was a pleasure climbing with you two the day prior - looks like the weather was much improved!


To teather or not?
05/31/2009 22:02
It wasn‘t attached to me. I have to debate which is better, and all I can come up with is sometimes yes, sometimes no.

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