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 Peak(s):  Mt. Sneffels  -  14,150 feet
 Post Date:  02/18/2013
 Date Climbed:   02/14/2013
 Posted By:  Dad Mike

 Valentine's Day on Mt. Sneffels   

Trailhead...10,600' on the Camp Bird Road
Route...Standard, South Face to SE Couloir
Mileage...9.5 miles
Elevation Gain...3600 feet

Dani and I have always had good luck with mixing days in the mountains and special occassions...
-my brother's birthday on Vermillion
-New Year's Eve in Ecuador
-4th of July in Ice Lake Basin
-Superbowl Sunday on Little Horn
-the day Michael Jackson died on Holy Cross

Those were some of the most memorable days of our lives.

I've never been a big fan of Valentine's Day. It always feels so forced to me. But every year I give in to the pressure...I make a restaurant reservation, buy the flowers, make breakfast, be even nicer to my wife than usual. Well not this year. This year we are going to the mountains and I'm going to be mean to my wife. After lining up a couple places for us to stay in Ridgway, I threw together a list of activities for our 4 days down there...climb Mt. Sneffels, climb Wilson Peak, ski Telluride, ice climb in Ouray. I didn't commit us to a certain order because I wanted to see what the weather was going to do. I figured doing any of those 4 things on Valentine's Day would be a nice break from tradition and would create a memorable day. After consulting various weather websites from our room at the Chipeta Solar Resort, we decided on Sneffels.

After an amazing dinner at the Colorado Boy Brewery (http://www.coloradoboy.com/) we went to bed early...dreaming of a day with safe snow conditions, sunny skies, and no wind...and if we could only get one out of three, we would take the first one, and that's all we got.

The day started off on a promising note. We got to the winter closure on the Camp Bird Road around 6:30am and found that the gate was open and the road was plowed. We were able to get all the way to the Revenue Mine at 10,600'...about 3 miles past the gate. I had a bad feeling about that gate. It just didn't seem right that it was unlocked. We found out later that we just got lucky. That gate was unlocked for the mine workers. After everyone gets past it, they lock it back up. So when we got back to the gate later that afternoon, the gate was locked and we were on the wrong side. I called the Ouray Chamber and the Sherriff with no luck. We sat there for 30 minutes before someone from the mine came up the road and let us loose.

We started up the un-plowed road at 7am under a beautiful sunrise and mostly clear skies. There were no signs of recent skier or snowshoer activity, so we had a blank canvas to draw our line.

I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

Image
Looking back at the sunrise over Ouray from our parking spot


Image
Early morning light on Sneffels and Kismet


Image
Dani getting higher into Yankee Boy Basin...weather still holding


Image
Heading towards Kismet...Sneffels is still out of sight


Image
Looking back at Potosi Peak


Image
The weather started to deteriorate as we got to the upper trailhead


Image
It didn't take long for the clouds to take over...visibility dropped to 50' and it started to snow lightly


Image
We were still comfortable with the snow conditions so we headed up towards the Kismet, Sneffels saddle


Image
We got all the way to the top of the saddle and headed into the deep couloir directly to the left...here's Dani near the bottom of the couloir


Image
And looking up at what looked like the couloir that would never end


Image
The hardest part of the route is the exit out of the couloir & onto the ridge...we made this harder than it needed to by by choosing this option


Image
Had to take my mittens off and got cold fast


Image
4 days later and the tips of 3 of my right hand fingers are still numb


Image
Lowered a rope for Dani so she wouldn't have to take her mittens off


Image
Dani on the final ridge to the summit


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It wouldn't be Valentine's Day with out flowers and candy...so I brought a rose and some russell stover chocolates


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She said yes!!


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If you're wondering why there is a rose on the summit of Mt. Sneffels, now you know


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Ok...enough with the romance...time to get down and out of the wind


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Here is the better option for getting into or out of the couloir...to get to it you need to go all the way to the top


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Dani at our snowshoe stash


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You know it's cold when every thread on your hat freezes


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As we got back to the trees, the clouds finally started to break up...in Ouray the sun was out...in Ridgway the clouds were pretty much gone


Despite the weather, I don't think I could have asked for a better Valentine's Day. It was a difficult and rewarding day on one of the most incredible mountains in Colorado. And I was with the woman I love. It doesn't get much better than that.

At least that's how I felt till Saturday when we climbed Wilson Peak on a day without a single cloud.

Image
Dani on Wilson Peak's SE Face


Image
Me climbing up the to the SW Ridge


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Dani on the traverse


Image
Summit Dance



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
d_baker


Romance Novel....     2013-02-19 04:42:45
...on 14ers. You're a stud Mike. But I know Dani is the driving force! More great photos to add to your collection too...and of course the memories. Nice trip, you two!


BillMiddlebrook



Way to get after it     2013-02-19 07:33:26
Congrats on getting to some beautiful places in winter! I really like pic #2. Some of those shots had some scary looking snow conditions, especially #25. Glad you didn't trigger anything.


wooderson


Awww....     2013-02-19 10:24:28
How sweet. And you weren't mean to your wife, you threw her the rope so she wouldn't have to take her mittens off! And they say chivalry is dead...

Nice to see a TR that features your better half, Mike. And clearly a smart woman who knows that hitting peaks and suffering in the cold with your man beats dinner in a fancy restaurant... on Valentine's or any day!


Dancesatmoonrise


Beautiful!     2013-02-19 10:44:53
Very cool story, Mike and Dani!

Mike, hope those fingers are feeling better. Matt did the same thing on Cables a couple years ago. Get some REI polartec powerstretch gloves to go under your mitts. They're only 2 oz for the pair. Let the mitts hang from the leashes while climbing in the polartec gloves. They grip well.

Amazing weather - Dani looks more like she's scuba diving in image 15!

Sorry I missed you guys on Wilson Peak last Saturday. We'll get out soon.

And congrats, you're really getting after it this year!


Papillon


The bar is way too high, dude, way too high...     2013-02-19 10:54:09
Thanks for making my Valentine's Day weekend (and Sarah's b-day weekend) seem like total shit now.

All kidding aside, let's get our muses together for a climb in the next few months like we talked about.


akwon


:)     2013-02-19 13:02:01
love the pictures! gave me goosebumps. I can't wait to get out there!


nkan02


Nice!     2013-02-19 15:18:56
I followed in your footsteps a couple of days later, although did not get all the way to the end. Smart idea to bring a rope, I didn't think of that. Oh and I am with Bill - plenty of avy activity in the basin.
p.s. Can't believe your luck about getting past the winter road closure. In my case, the gate on the way OUT was open.


semitrueskerm


Well played....     2013-02-19 16:04:58
Well done, Mad Mike & Dani. Spectacular photos. Great stuff.


I Man


Congrats bud!     2013-02-19 19:52:17
Very cool! Nice touch on the summit for Valentines day
Was great to hike with you both on Saturday. You guys had a hell of a ”weekend”


pioletski


A beautiful romantic story...     2013-02-19 20:00:37
... that only you and Dani could write! Congratulations on some awesome climbing.


Wyoming Bob


Good job on the couloir exit . . .     2013-02-19 21:41:02
Stopped us in our tracks two winters back, well done and written.


zdero1


TO ALL YA'LL LEAVIN FLOWERS ON 14ERS....     2013-02-20 00:22:22
Happy for ya! Great TR. Great story!


lordhelmut


God Mode     2013-02-20 09:30:37
One above Beast Mode, the mode where you are unstoppable. Nice work. Its very encouraging to see the San Juans are blanketed in snow. Solid report in every regards Mad Mike!



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