Thursday, June 28, 2012

Icon of the San Juan

Mt. Sneffels 14,150'

SW Ridge- 6.5 miles RT, 3,000' elevation gain

Mt. Sneffels stands alone. It's the only 14er close to Ouray, surround by beautiful and rugged mountains that just fall short of the 14,000' benchmark. It's the northermost 14er in the San Juan mountains.  From Montrose, it can easily be seen and it seems to tower over the other mountains nearby. It can be seen from many other 14ers in the area, known for it's distinctive Pyramid-like shape when seen from many sides. It's also a beauty, usually being accessed from the photogenic and wonderful "Yankee Boy Basin", an easy side-trip from Ouray. The shoulders and ridges of the mountain are rocky, rugged, craggy, and primal. This mountain is an icon of the San Juan.
Mt. Sneffels as seen from the North

Super Zoom shot of Mt. Sneffels N face

Driving into Yankee Boy Basin from Ouray
Waterfall emerging from a snowbank

Old mine ruins

looking SE near the 2WD trailhead in YBB

Sunset over Yankee Boy Basin
Yankee Boy Basin Panorama (3-shot composite)

Looking up to Gilpin Peak
Stars are coming out

Same shot about 30 minutes later
Milky way and a meteor over YBB

Sunrise over YBB as we hike up the trail. About 5:30 AM

Upper YBB Panorama (3 shot composite)

You can see the saddle dead ahead, and the needle-like spires

Heading on up to the saddle (Photo by SZL)

Looking up the ridge to the summit from the saddle

Game on! (Photo by SZL)

Scott scrambles up a loose and steep chute

Uh, time to start downclimbing? (Photo by SZL)

Going down.. I stuck to the rocks (photo by SZL)

We didn't really need the ice axes, but we brought them, so out they came

Starting on the crux

coming up the crux with an axe and some spikes

Terrain eases after the crux

The final pitch is thrilling exposure on solid rock with great views

Looking up from the same point, the summit in view. Is this heaven?
Huge summit Panorama (5-shot composite)

Teakettle, center, is perhaps the most difficult "centennial" in Colorado
Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn, center (lined up!)

Sneffels, what does it mean? Up on the summit
 The summit was small and unprotected from the wind. I enjoyed my customary "summit snickers" and took drinks from my Maui Brewing Company "CoCoNut Porter", which might just be my new favorite beer. The cold and whipping winds urged us to cut our customary lounging short and head down the mountain.
We came down the standard route. It was pretty lame, but easy enough

Stoney Peak
Waterfall in YBB

Parting shot of Gilpin Peak

It took us 3 hours to summit from the 2WD parking area. We took our time on the difficult parts. It took 1 hour 45 minutes to go down, which included about 15 minutes looking for a way into the upper descent gully. I'm still not sure where it is.

This is a great route for anyone who is comfortable on class 3 terrain. It offers rugged and picturesque scenery, challenging and interesting climbing that is relatively solid, and a good alternative to the standard route. We didn't see anyone on the moutain until we started heading down the standard way, and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

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