Hike Mount Sneffels (14,150')
Colorado › Yankee Boy Basin Upper Trailhead
Added by Greg Owens
At 14,150 feet, Mount Sneffels is the fourth tallest peak in the San Juan Mountains and arguably the most beautiful. Stunning views in almost every direction can be had all along the route to the summit, making the journey every bit as good as the final destination.
The most common route, sometimes called the standard route or the Lavender Col route, begins at or near the top of Yankee Boy Basin, just outside of Ouray. Take the Camp Bird Road as far as you can, though be warned that the last few miles of the road are extremely rough and should only be attempted in a vehicle with four-wheel-drive and high-clearance. From the upper trailhead, the route to the summit is about 1 mile but with an elevation gain of over 1700’. The route first traverses a stable talus slope before a junction with the Blue Lakes Pass Trail. Bear right to continue to Mount Sneffels, and climb up a series of switchbacks that leads to two large rock cairns that form a gate of sorts. After this gate, the route ascends a broad gully full of loose rock and scree; keep to the left on the larger rocks for an easier way to Lavender Col, a saddle along the east ridge between Mount Sneffels and Kismet Peak. Once you reach the col, turn to the left (west) and climb up a couloir that leads to the crux of the route. Be careful in this couloir; snow can linger well into August (as it did this year), and the snowfield is steep and icy in the mornings. Watch out for falling rocks in this gully as well, and watch especially for rocks knocked loose by people climbing above you. Once you reach the top of the couloir, you’ll find a V-notch that requires a Class III maneuver and has some heart-stopping exposure on the left side. Once you make it through that notch, though, the route to the top is an easy walk. Once there, enjoy the breathtaking views of the surrounding 13ers, the ski slopes of Telluride, and distant views of Uncompahgre Peak (14,309’) and Wetterhorn Peak (14,015’).
For added adventure, I spent a wild night on the east ridge above Lavender Col between Mount Sneffels and Kismet Peak. Great sunset, amazing stars, and a glorious sunrise!
- Trekking pole or walking stick
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Awesome photos! I climbed Mt. Sneffels this past summer, but came up from Lower Blue Lake (where I set up camp). It's a longer hike but the three Blue Lakes below Sneffels are all pretty stunning and worth a side trip if possible.
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