Peak(s):  Mt. Sneffels  -  14,150 feet
Date Posted:  07/26/2009
Date Climbed:   07/21/2009
Author:  doggler
 Sneffels - the stuff they don‘t tell you!  

As a teacher, I have the luxury of time off over the summer. This time around, I have made full use of said time, and decided a while back to plan a big 14er-centric trip in late July:

Day 1: Wetterhorn
Day 2: Sneffels and Chicago Basin approach
Day 3: Eolus Group
Day 4: Pack out and hike in to Horn Fork Basin
Day 5: Harvard and Columbia
Day 6: Ride Monarch Crest

My hope was to kill a bunch of birds with one stone: bag some peaks, enjoy some of the scenery, and put in some solid altitude training in preparation for the Pikes Peak Ascent in August.

Monday went well, with no issues encountered on Wetterhorn. The trip report can be seen here:

I made it to Ouray around 8PM on Monday night and drove to Yankee Boy Basin. The road posed little problems for my 2WD Maxima.

DISCLAIMER: I am not usually soooo opinionated, but something about this climb struck chords with me. Read on and you'll see what I mean.

An abandoned mining cabin on the way to Yankee Boy Basin.

For the record, I most certainly didn't camp out at the 2WD trailhead...I simply took a little nap. ;) got up at 5:00 AM and was on the jeep road at 5:45.

Right away, I was not a fan of the standard route. Two miles of jeep road = blah.

Looking back at the upper trailhead. I thought I would enjoy it a little more, but this stretch of trail was quite talusy and unpleasant. Nothing more than a pain in the a$$, but still...

Eventually, I got to the bottom of the Lavender Col. Another chance for this route to redeem itself...ugh. Loose dirt and scree made for more not-so-fun hiking. While I knew the view on top would make everything worth it, this route was miserable compared to my blissful experience up Wetterhorn the day before.

Looking south at Gilpin Peak. The view surrounding Sneffels was nice, at least...

Atop the Lavender Col, looking NW up the gully.

Looking down at the top of the Col.


There was more snow in the gully than I had expected, and I began to posthole a bit. Just another factor I let affect my fun-o-meter. I decided to scramble up this wall to the left of the gully and follow this rib as far up as I could.

Gaining the rib was fun! Suddenly, my spirits lifted and I began doing what everyone should do on a high peak - I enjoyed myself!

Atop Sneffels, 7:30 AM.

I had read up on the SW ridge route prior to leaving Colorado Springs, and figured I might give it a whirl someday. After dealing with the "standard" route, I decided to descend the ridge instead.

A look down on the SW ridge.

WOW! Suddenly, a miserable day had turned into a wonderful one! I was having the time of my life scrambling through stuff like this.

Most of the true difficulties on the ridge could be easily avoided.

Halfway down the ridge, I met up with 14er lurker Brandon and his father-in-law, Jim.

The ridge dumped me out at Blue Lakes Pass, where a friendly marmot was there to greet me.

Looking up at the ridge. Difficulty-wise, I found this to be a tad sportier than the upper part of Wetterhorn, but much more sustained. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The trail from Blue Lakes Pass was soooooo much more picturesque than the standard route.

The trail to/from Blue Lakes Pass joined up with the jeep road between the lower and upper trailheads - closer to the lower, though. I believe the sign says 'Wright Lake'.


I got back to my car at 9:00. For the next hour, I enjoyed a post-climb beer and began packing up for my hike into the Chicago Basin during the afternoon. What happened next astounded me. People started coming up the trailhead in DROVES. When I finally left, cars were circling like vultures to take my spot. I counted over 100 - yes, one HUNDRED - vehicles coming up on my way down the road into Ouray. The bad news is that so many people converging on one spot is disgusting...the good news is that they all showed up soooo late.

After getting down the road, I was off to Silverton to catch the Narrow Gauge into Chicago Basin!!! Wednesday was to be my big day!

Advice to prospective Snefflers:
1)If you can handle class 3, do NOT - I repeat, do NOT waste your time with the standard route. The SW ridge is amazing in every way that the standard route sucks!
2)Start early. Last thing anyone wants is to run into herds upon herds of people.

Round trip: 3 hours, 45 minutes

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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