Peak(s):  Mt. Sneffels  -  14,155 feet
Date Posted:  07/19/2012
Date Climbed:   07/17/2012
Author:  emohr
Additional Members:   BTort
 Mt. Sneffels & Blue Lakes   

ROUTE: Yankee Boy Basin/Blue Lakes
LENGTH: 10 Miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 4,700' Total
CLASS: Class 1 with some Class 2+

I finally got the opportunity to head down to the legendary San Juans this week! Brandon and I drove from Golden to Telluride on Sunday to meet up with our friends David and Katie. We had a classy drink at the top of the Telluride Gondola and stayed the night in Telluride with the hopes of climbing Sneffles on Monday from the Yankee Boy Basin, camping at Blue Lakes that night, and drive back to Ouray on Tuesday evening.

Sneffles on our way to Telluride

Hike over Blue Lakes Pass

Unfortunately we took Imogene Pass which was beautiful, but slow going. We didn't get to the trailhead of Sneffles till noon, so we decided to just hike to Blue Lakes and camp there that night. The trail over Blue Lakes Pass was pretty easy hiking and didn't have many problems.

The second of 3 parking lots to Sneffles

Wright's Lake(Center) and Sneffles(R)

Looking back down the trail for Blue Lakes Pass


Blue Lakes Pass(L) and Sneffles(R)

Top of Blue Lakes Pass looking towards Sneffles

The lovely view the clouds gave us at the top of the Pass

First sight of the Lakes


Back towards the top of the pass

This was the first real backpacking Brandon and I had done for a 14er trip, so we weren't exactly prepared for the hauling of a 30+ pound pack. When we found our campsite at the lower lake, Brandon, David, and Katie all took a nap. Me, on the other hand, wanted to use my fly rod for the first time this season

Our lovely camping sight at the lower lake

Cutthroat Trout from the Lower Lake





We relaxed and ate well that night and went to bed early to try and summit Sneffles the next day

Mt. Sneffles Hike

We woke up the next day at about 9, and started to head off at 10. This is a lot later than I normally like to start hiking because of weather, but I was the only one that had summit fever and didn't want to annoy everyone with an early wakeup

Tuesday Morning wake-up view

We climbed out of the basin up Blue Lakes Pass over towards Yankee Boy to do the standard class 2+ route

Katie and David at the top of Blue Lakes Pass

We set our backpacking packs at an intersection of the Blue Lakes Trail and the Sneffles Trail

Going up the trail to the first saddle took us about an hour. It was a pretty good trail till "The Two Towers," and then becomes some pretty slow skree hiking.

The Two Towers

The skree hiking up to the first saddle

Once at the top of the saddle, we could see the couloir that leads to the top

View to the West from the first saddle

Blue is the less technical route, Red is the way to the Notch

Climbing through the couloir was pretty easy for class 2 and a lot of fun as an avid boulderer(I don't think that's a word)

Once we got to the top of the couloir, we found the infamous Notch we had to go through. I had seen pictures and videos of it before, but didn't realize how far the drop was if you didn't go through the Notch successfully. I've been bouldering for a year or two now and the move that I had to make would have been uncomfortable in a climbing gym, so doing it with 100+ feet of exposure really got my adrenaline going. After staring at it for a few minutes, I went for it and made my move. I was pretty surprised I didn't have urine running down my leg when I got done. At the moment it was pretty scary, but once I got done, I realized how much fun the more difficult and dangerous sections are. The Notch was probably the most technical part of any 14er I've done, so after that I'm really looking forward to some class 3 climbing

Blue is the route through the Notch, Red is the 100+ foot death plummet

After the Notch it was pretty easy class 2 scrambling the last hundred or so yards to the summit

Summit View

Summit Team

The Big One Six

The summit was gorgeous and no one else was up there. The only summit that came close to comparison was Humboldt. It was so peaceful and had amazing views. It's nice to get away from the 14ers around Denver that have 30+ people on the summits

On the way down we decided to skip the Notch and try to find a bit safer route down. We found a nice couloir that would get us back to the regular route and big couloir. I would definitely recommend going up and going down this if you are afraid of heights or just can't make the necessary move on the Notch

Red route leads back to the sketchy notch, Blue leads to the less technical couloir

Brandon had a blast on all the technical parts of the climb and wanted to do a bit of skree running to finish up the trip. I know there are some people on the community who probably wouldn't approve of this for safety reasons, but Brandon knew the risk he was taking and made sure that I knew he was doing something dangerous, and didn't want to have anybody suffer if he messed up. He's a college kid: He's invincible folks! (Obviously not true)

It was a great trip and a great introduction to the San Juans! I just can't wait to go back there and see what the other mountains down there have in store

Stay Thirsty My Friends

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Craig Cook
As always...
07/19/2012 07:17
Great photos and another great trip report!

07/19/2012 07:19
Gracias Craig! Did you have a good time in Colorado??

Craig Cook
Of course!
07/19/2012 08:24
It's almost impossible not to have a good time in Colorado.

I wrote a rather lengthy TR detailing all my adventures if you're so inclined (I think it's at the bottom of the first page). I didn't get the Bierstadt sunrise like we had originally planned, but that's okay.

He's got
07/19/2012 14:05
moves like Jagger! Nice TR. I gotta hit up that peak this season looks like a blast (minus scree running)!

You should be a photographer!
07/19/2012 15:10
Great Report

Looks like an incredible Experience
07/19/2012 16:23
Way to make a great weekend out of it! Some of those pics are darn impressive. (17/18/27). I'll make sure my daughter sees #15 as Pink Elephants are her favorite.

07/19/2012 17:40
Great photos. Congrats!

ill be there in a mth
07/20/2012 01:34
will be an exciting time.... great report....

Technicality Question
07/30/2012 14:24
I have never been down to San Juans and have not done much bouldering/climbing. I just wanted to confirm that this does not involve any ropes. Look forward to hearing back from you.

Blue Lakes Pass to Standard Route
06/26/2016 09:09
Thank you so much for your TR! I want to camp at Blue Lakes, but wanted to summit the standard route. Your report answered all my questions, and the photos are great!

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