This was the tenth anniversary to the day of my first 14er: Quandary Peak on September 1, 2002. In between, I have climbed 32 others and attempted a couple more. After Long's and possibly Castle and Challenger Point, Sneffels is the hardest.
We left Ouray at about 6 and reached the lower fork in the road about 6:40. The Fusion had sufficient clearance to make it to here, but not much further. A kindly fellow in a four-wheel drive Explorer gave us a ride to a parking point nearer the restrooms and we set out from there at about 7:15.
Mine in Yankee Boy Basin
We first followed the four-wheel drive road up into Yankee Boy Basin. The views of Teakettle, Coffeepot and Potosi lured us on, despite the overcast skies with threat of mid morning rain.
Potosi from the 4wd road
TeaKettle & CoffeePot from 4wd road As well as a sneak peek of our destination peak
Sneffels hiding behind Kismet. Top of gulley is visible
We reached the end of the road and a sign-in point
End of Road. The trail continued across talus, meadows, and eventually a scree slope coming down from Lavender Col (the saddle between Sneffels and Kismet). As expected, the scree slope was frustrating and time consuming, but we reached the Lavender Col at about 10:15. It had begun to sprinkle with some graupel mixed in, but there was no lightening so we waited it out in shelters from the wind and some of the rain. From the saddle, the views east to Kismet, Cirque Mtn, TeaKettle, Coffeepot, and Potosi made me think I might like to try one of those on a future trip.
Lavender Col and trail to Kismet and beyond
Teakettle: Here is my handle, but where is my spout?
I waited for Beth, since we had decided to stay closer together and join up at any difficult points, especially the notch. We took a sharp left turn and began ascending the gulley. While a person could climb it standing up, it seemed easier to third class it and use hands and feet both. There was some rockfall from climbers on the Southwest Ridge, but none of it reached into the gulley. We had bike helmets, mine makes me look like Nute Gunray of Star Wars Nematoad fame. The rock in the gulley was not as loose as the scree slope and made for an enjoyable scramble.
Look back down the gulley Near the top of the gulley, we reached the notch. If a person is seven feet tall, the notch would be a cinch. Alas, neither of us is quite that tall, so we found small hand and foot holds to do a brief exposed manuever up and through.
The peak was neither busy nor deserted, so there was no congestion near the notch, and we did not see anyone turnback at the notch. Of course, we helped each other and other climbers so it became a group effort to get through the notch, boldly or otherwise.
View from the notch but not of the notch itselfFrom the notch, it was a short scamper to the right (north) to the summit
Trail Above the Notch
We reached the summit by 11:15 for a four hour climb with a short rain delay. A Nematoad was found on the summit
Silly, Shivering, Sniffelling, Shirtless, Sneffels, Summit Shot with Dallas Peak in background
Sneffel' summit is a wonderful vantage point because you can view high peaks you might never climb or maybe even see as well from lower elevations. Dallas Peak dominated the view to the southwest. Far beyond Dallas are the Wilsons. Maybe Wilson Peak, if the climbing abilities increase faster than the aging process limits us
Dallas Peak with lower difficulties
Dallas Peak again
Dallas Peak and the Wilsons
Dallas Peak and the Wilsons.
Directly below Dallas are the Blue Lakes and Blue Lakes Pass.
Blue Lake Pass and Gilpin Peak
Scree Field near base of Blue Lakes Pass Gilpin Peak is across the way. Very near the summit is a geocache which was another reason for our climbing Sneffels.
Geocache with ridge toward Potosi Beyond the geocache, we can see the whole long ridge...Kismet, Cirque, Teakettle, Coffeepot and Potosi. Some of these are also in Never Neverland for us, but Potosi is tempting. Not even the geocache on TeaKettle would get me up there at this stage.
About noon, we start back down. The sun comes out and the wind dies back giving blue sky for a few pictures. Carefully down the gulley
Beth Descending the Gulley and even more carefully down the scree, we look to our right where HooDoos guard the southwest ridge. The HoodDoos caught some of the falling rocks, it seemed.
Hoodoos near southwest ridge We get into the flatter scree where the trail is better defined and head for the road.
A lot of scree in the upper basin
Trail going down Yankee Boy Basin. We stop at the 4 wheel drive trailhead to talk with some awestruck ATV riders. Then we learn that they are actually planning a summit attempt for the morrow, so the awestruckedness might be exaggerated. There are minor route finding difficulties on the descent as multiple roads intersect the route, but we navigated them with a little common sense and asking an ATV driver for confirmation. The descent took every bit as long as the ascent because we had to make it all the way to the lowest trailhead where the Fusion was parked. Still a great mountain and we were done before 5. Will we be back someday? I certainly hope so.
Basin is beautified by waterfalls and wildflowers. Not so much scree. The question comes up: Who is the real monarch of this basin? Sneffels is kind of a recluse from this side.
Potosi stakes claim as monarch of the basin
So does TeaKettle
Potosi might be fun but difficult. Gets on my 13er goal list.
Thanks for reading and putting up with our quirks.