Climb Mt. Sneffels via the Southwest Ridge

Rate this Adventure Colorado Yankee Boy Basin Upper Trailhead

Added by Matthew Eaton

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
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Hiking, Photography, Rock Climbing

Skill Level:



Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



3 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1800 Feet



Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

Have you done this adventure? Have something to add? You could be the first to leave a review!

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!

More Adventures Nearby

Hike the Spearhead

Colorado / Glacier Gorge Trailhead

Beginning from the Glacier Gorge trailhead, follow trail signs towards Mills Lake. At Mills, continue onward past Black Lake, and then continue hiking up into the incredible basin above Black Lake.

Kyle Frost
3 Saves

Hike Mt. Elbert via Black Cloud Trail

Colorado / Black Cloud Trailhead

Directions:  Heading south from Leadville from U.S. 24: West on CO 82 for 10.5 miles to a hidden right turn that leads to a trail head. If you make it to the Mt.

Mike Stevens
2 Saves

Backpack to Dragon's Back via Horsethief Trail

Colorado / Horsethief Trailhead

The Uncompahgre Wilderness stretches out through the mountains and forests of southwestern Colorado, with worn trails lingering beside abandoned 19th-century mines and crossing old alpine sheep pastu.

Jonathon Reed
15 Saves