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Mt. Sneffels
standard South Slopes
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Difficulty:
 Easy Class 3 
Risk Factors:Exposure: Considerable
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Moderate  
Commitment: Moderate  
 
Trailhead:Yankee Boy Basin
Start:11,350 feet
Summit:14,150 feet
Total Gain:1,700 feet - From upper trailhead (12,460')
2,900 feet - From outhouse parking (11,350')
3,400 feet - From highest 2WD parking (10,800')
RT Length:2.50 miles - From upper trailhead (12,460')
6.00 miles - From outhouse parking (11,350')
7.75 miles - From highest 2WD parking (10,800')
Duration:User Climb Times
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Updated:7/2020
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:260 reports
Cell Signal:7 reports
Sheriff:Ouray: 970-325-7272
Forest:Uncompahgre
Wilderness:Mt. Sneffels
Quad. Maps:Log In to View
Camping:On Google Maps
Eats:On Google Maps
Downloads:Log In to Download
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Trailhead

Take US 550 to Ouray. 1/4 mile south of town, turn west onto Country Road (CR) 361 (2WD, Dirt) toward Yankee Boy Basin and start measuring mileage from this point. Your mileage may vary slightly, but the following list describes the turns and milestones:

  • 4.6 miles: Stay right on CR 26.
  • 5.2 miles: The road is cut into the cliffs like a "C" so there is rock hanging over the road.
  • 5.9 miles: Stay right on CR 26 at the junction for Imogene Pass.
  • 6.7 miles: Stay right at the junction for Governor Basin. The remaining drive is 4WD and 2WD cars should park at or near this junction.
  • 7.5 miles: Reach the lower "trailhead" where there's a restroom.

Driving beyond this point requires high-clearance 4WD

  • 100 yards after the restroom parking area, pass a large rock and stay right at a junction.
  • 8.0 miles: Stay right.
  • 8.2 miles: There's a sign that recommends only 4WD, high-clearance, short-wheelbase. 4WD vehicles can continue another mile to the signed, upper trailhead at 12,460'.

Route

From the outhouse parking area , continue west on the road - 1. After 100 yards, pass a large rock and stay right at a junction - 2. Follow the road 0.75 mile to 11,700' where it gets worse - 3. It's another mile to the upper trailhead but the remaining road is rough and should only be attempted by 4WD vehicles with high clearance and a short wheelbase. Continue to the upper trailhead , at 12,460' - 4.

From the upper trailhead, hike northwest across talus on a good trail - 5 and 6. After over 0.25 mile and near 12,600', stay right at a trail junction - 7. Hike a short distance and ascend a few switchbacks before the trail angles into a broad, scree-covered slope - 8 and 9. Now, without a defined trail, pick a line and climb (just left of the slope's center is best) toward the top of this loose, ugly, Class 2 slope - 10 and 11. Reach the top at a 13,560-foot saddle called "Lavender Col." If you felt it was very difficult to get to this point, you may not be ready for the remaining climb and this may be a good place to turn back.

From the col , turn left to see a gully that ascends northwest toward the summit - 12 and 13. Begin climbing the upper gully - 14 and 15. If there's snow, crampons and axe are recommended. You won't find a trail, so pick your line and continue toward the top - 16. Approximately 30 feet before the gully ends at an overlook, turn left to find a small "V" notch which provides the easiest access to the summit - 18 and 19. Scramble (Easy Class 3) through the notch where you'll notice a bit of exposure on your left as you climb through. Beyond the notch ( 20), the summit is not far off. Scramble to the top on easy, stable rock - 21 and 22. Views from the summit - 23 and 24.

Notes

In 2016, some rocks at the base of the "V" notch were removed, causing the difficulty of climbing through the notch to be increased from Difficult Class 2 to "easy" Class 3. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Mt. Sneffels Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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