Ouray County Highpoint Trip Report

Mount Sneffels

Date: July 14, 2007
Author: Rich Allen

We departed from the Wrights Lake trailhead in Yankee Boy Basin at about 5:50 am, near the beginning of the switchbacks on the road coming in. There were wildflowers everywhere, though it was evident by the crunchy ground that it had been below freezing the night before.

We elected to do the Southwest Ridge route, as the standard route already had people on it who looked fairly careless with how much rock fall they created. We hiked up the trail to the top of Blue Lakes Pass and turned north (right) to follow the jagged spires up the ridge, staying on the west (left) side of them. The rock was fairly stable if caution was exercised and there was still deep snow in patches near the spires.

At 13,500 feet, we encountered a notch in the ridge full of snow, which required some tricky navigating to cross safely. The route continued to be steep and somewhat exposed all the way to the summit, with most of the exposure coming in the last 500 feet (approximately).

We reached the summit in 4 hours of careful Class III scrambling and descended the standard route. The couloir and notch were filled with snow, with many people ascending the snow and rock on either side, negating a safe glissade. We carefully plunge-stepped our way down to the saddle and began to descend the scree to the basin. Again, a ton of people ascending, some in sandals and cut- off shorts, so simply bailing down the scree was not an option. We reached the bottom of the couloir 2 hours after leaving the summit, always looking over our shoulder for rock fall from the others going up.

We elected to climb back up to Blur Lakes Pass and descend via the Blue Lakes Trail, having been assured we would have a ride waiting there. It was a long and beautiful descent, with the lakes rivaling the blues and greens of the Caribbean. Wildflowers abounded.

I had been told by others that this was the most beautiful area of the state and I am inclined to agree.