Peak(s):  Mt. Sneffels  -  14,150 feet
Date Posted:  06/30/2009
Date Climbed:   06/30/2009
Author:  geojed

 Rock vs. Ice: Rock Wins!!  

(I took lots of pictures on this climb but won't be able to upload them until July 4 when I return home. The previous trip report has good pictures of the route. Now their is just less snow, except in the gully)

Climbed Sneffels this morning. I started about 6am where a sign in the middle of the Yankee Boy Basin Road notifies you that the road is closed ahead. On the map it's at about 12,000ft elevation.

Got to the trailhead by about 6:15am and signed in. I was the first for the day. Yes! Followed the trail until the trail for Sneffels split off. Climbed up to the pass on very loose rock and sometimes very hard ground that was difficult to get an edge in. Made it to the pass by 7:15am or so.

Reached very crusty and icy snow at the top of the Col. Took a short break and had a snack. The gully up above the col was looking very steep and icy. Trusting in my super trail runners and the good steps in the icy snow I headed up the gully. Got about 2/3 of the way up when my better sense got to me and I realized that this is going to be very difficult to get back down. (Note: I did not have crampons or an ice axe. The ice axe is the tool that I really missed)
One slip on this very steep icy snow and I'm a goner.

So I made the wise choice with the knowledge I had at the time and started to work my way back down using the nice holes others had made with their ice axes as hand holds. I made it to a rock field towards the bottom of the gully and sat for awhile watching another couple (with crampons and ice axes. Man they're smart! ) I talked to them for 5 minutes or so as they started their ascent.

Meanwhile, two guys who had started after me and did the West Ridge Route came climbing down the rock ridge on the left side of the gully. I asked them how the route was they came down and they said that it was easy (Class 3) with only one steep snowfield to traverse. YES! I can do that!

So I headed up the rock ridge and made it to the top before the couple doing the gully did!!! I summited at aroud 9am. I would have summited by 8am if I had continued up the gully and didn't waffle, or if I had known about the rock route in the first place.

I sat on the top enjoying the "bluebird" day and the amazing views for about an hour with only one other person coming up (and he left pretty quickly). So I had it all to myself.

Started my descent at around 10am and met several other groups at the start of snowy (now soft and slippery and slushy) couloir. I asked them if they knew about the rock route to the summit and I directed them to where they should go.

Continued down and made it back to my jeep by 11:30am. What an AWESOME day.

Note: I would recommend that anyone who doesn't have crampons or especially ice axes to do the rock route to the summit until the gully melts out. I wish this route had been noted and described on the route report but unfortunately it isn't.

The route begins about 50ft above Lavender Col on the left side of the couloir. It's approximately at the base of second arrow of picture #18 of the route report. (You can actually see most of the rock route on picture #18. ) Their is a rock cairn there. Traverse left onto the ridge and begin to climb up the rock. Easy class 3 moves take you up and across the 30ft wide ridge. Once across the ridge climb up easy steps along the base of the rocky ridge you just crossed and continue up 200ft to a 20ft wide steep snowfield. Traverse across the snow field and then ascend 15ft up the snowfield and exit the snowfield on the left. Continue route finding up easy rock to the summit.


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