Climb Mt. Sneffels via the Southwest Ridge

Colorado Yankee Boy Basin Upper Trailhead

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Class III Scramble leading to amazing views, exposure, and a Colorado 14er summit experience.

There is a great description of this trailhead here: Hike Mount Sneffels

The SW Ridge route of Mt Sneffels is a Class III scramble in the Mount Sneffels Wilderness area of the San Juan Range located between Ouray and Telluride, Colorado. This route is 3 miles RT with 1,800 feet of elevation gain from the upper trailhead, or 6.5 miles RT with 3,000 feet of elevation gain rom the lower trailhead in Yankee Boy Basin.

Don’t be fooled by the length of this route, it is a notable climb with a decent time commitment and will take several hours from start to finish for the average person.

Leave the trailhead and head west towards Blue Moon Pass on a well-defined trail and quickly reach your first milestone as you crest the saddle onto the pass. The views from here alone are spectacular and worth the effort.

From here, climb north along the talus field below the ominous towers of the ridge crest. Enter a gully and climb towards a notch in the rock. This is your next goal and is a great place to catch your breath. As you cross through the notch, you’ll descend to bypass steep rock and turn to the left to see the next gully which is your ascent line. Once again climb up into the gully and over a steep section of rock. You’ll exit the gully into a large flat area. From here, the most technical parts of the climb are passed but as you exit this area onto the ridge crest, you’ll come to the most exposed part of the climb.

What I wish I had known: Stay on the ridge crest and be careful not to venture out onto the east face of the mountain which contains loose and unstable rock. Rather, stay on the ridge crest and scamper along the solid rock, and enjoy the airy moves as you climb to the summit.

Enjoy your well-earned summit!

Descend the standard route to keep your adventure moving. Descent the climbers trail on the east face and head towards a very obvious V notch in the rock. Climb to and through the notch to find your way into the descent gully. This gully is relatively loose so take care not to send rock falling on climbers below you, and if you do, don’t forget to yell “Rock!” to inform fellow climbers.

You’ll exit the gully onto the Lavender Col, and your way down is the remaining scree slope below you to the right. Take your time on the way down and you’ll be back at the car before you know it.

Pack List

  • Route Description and map
  • Helmet
  • Hiking boots, approach shoes or some other variety with great grip and traction
  • Daypack with Snacks and Water
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Activities:

Photography, Hiking, Rock Climbing

Skill Level:

Advanced

Season:

Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

3 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1800 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Scenic

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How to Get There

3 months ago

Awesome

I found this route to be way more fun than the standard route. There was not as much loose scree, and there were less people. Best of both worlds.

3 months ago

Added by Matthew Eaton

Greetings! I am an outdoor lifestyle and adventure photographer based in Denver, Colorado. Loving life since 1983. I hope you find some of my adventures below helpful and inspiring!

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