Peak(s):  Mt. Sneffels  -  14,155 feet
Date Posted:  08/12/2013
Modified:  09/16/2021
Date Climbed:   07/29/2013
Author:  DanielL
Additional Members:   requist4, Angela Langemann
 The Great Mount Sneffels: Southwest Ridge Classic   

Mount Sneffels is an awesome mountain. I was convinced of this as I saw it for the first time from Montrose on Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago. Our group of 7 climbers were traveling south from Denver to climb some San Juan 14ers, and this was first on the list. We drove to Ouray and up the Camp Bird road a few miles until the Angel Creek campground, which worked out really well for us. The next morning, we drove up to the lower TH and started hiking up the 4WD road, feasting our eyes on the rugged and beautiful surrounding landscape of Yankee Boy Basin...

A colorful peak named Stony Mountain towers to the left:

Absolutely breathtaking views reward us as we climb up the basin:

Our objective comes into view as we approach the signs at the upper trailhead:

We had a brief discussion about which route to take, but everybody agreed that it would be the Southwest Ridge - longer, but hopefully much more rewarding and fun! So, off we went. The route climbs up to Blue Lakes Pass and then winds around to the left side of the ridge for the most part to get around the spires. As it gets closer to the summit, the spires give way to fun, knobby rock that gets more and more solid until the top!

At the junction that splits the standard and Southwest Ridge routes:

Gilpin Peak, hiding behind a cloud:

Mt. Sneffels in full view - standard route up the col on the right, our route on the left:

Can't ever get enough of this view - looking down Yankee Boy Basin from near Blue Lakes Pass:

One more time - from the top of the pass:

From the Blue Lakes Pass, the fun really begins. We found that the short gullies that the route climbs up as it traverses left below the crest are relatively solid.

The Southwest Ridge:

As we climb, we find that hiking up to the ridge crest between the spires provides a great view of Yankee Boy Basin:

The view down toward Blue Lakes Basin (yes, they really are blue!):

At one point, the left side of the ridge becomes much more steep and rugged..., we traverse to the right side, where we find cairns:

The cairns lead us over the rock rib shown above, and we climb up the gully on the opposite side, encountering more difficult climbing as the route climbs back to the ridge crest.

Having some fun:

The route climbs back over the crest and around the left side one more time, as the "Kissing Camels" formation comes into view:

Finally, the route gains the crest and stays there for the remainder of the climb.

Gaining the ridge crest one last time:

From here, all that remains is fun scrambling! At first, the rock is talus...

...but just above, it turns knobby and solid, providing some excellent scrambling!

The ridge soon narrows and increases difficulty, but the summit is just beyond!

Final stretch:

And then the summit!

Blue Lakes Basin:

Although it was cold, we had to take some time to enjoy our accomplishment. I felt, more than on most 14ers, much higher up from the surrounding terrain, even though there were plenty of high peaks around. The fog rolled in steadily, and the temps didn't rise at all, so before long we all decided to get moving down.

Back down the standard route:

Despite the loose rock, it doesn't take long to get off this mountain! We all had some fun sliding down the scree:

And finally, back down the colorful basin:

And that's it! Thanks for reading.

Comments or Questions
Dave B
Such a photogenic area
08/12/2013 15:31
Those couple shots of the last part of the ridge are what make cool mountaineering pictures.

Nice report.

PI Joe
Sneffles SW Ridge
08/12/2013 16:22
Looks like everyone had a great time on Sneffles. My teenage boys and I are planning to climb the same route next week. None of them have scrambled before, just hiked, however we are all in good shape in general. I figure if things get a little too out of hand we can simply reverse course and return the way we came. Did you notice any place along the route the climbing back down would be too difficult? I know most people who climb the SW ridge go down the standard route.

Somewhat of a Prick
Cool pics
08/12/2013 16:24
Cant wait to get there myself!

Clouds are amazing.
08/12/2013 16:36
You had some amazing conditions for photos. Nicely done.

08/12/2013 16:58
Thanks all for the comments! It is a beautiful area of Colorado for sure.

PI Joe: There was one area (right before Kissing Camels) that I would say was the crux of the route - see the pictures in the report - that would be tough to descend if you haven't done much scrambling. But pretty much all of the Class 3 was at that point and higher, so if you decided to turn around, then it wouldn't be too hard to retrace the route back down as long as you're on track.

Great pictures!
08/12/2013 20:53
I've been looking forward to this route for a while! I'm hoping to get down there this weekend to attempt it. Thanks for posting.

Lady McClimbsalot
Great report!
08/13/2013 04:39
Your pictures drive me mad! I want to climb this mountain so badly. Your report is inspiring! Great read

08/16/2013 01:16
Spectacular pictures! Meaningful report as well. I think you have inspired me to tackle this one despite being wary of the steeper mountains. Thanks!

Ice Axe?
08/25/2013 03:12
Great pictures and report! The route looks snow free but just wondering if there are any spots remaining where an ice ax or spikes would be helpful/required.

Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

08/25/2013 03:36
We didn't encounter any snow - the couloirs have melted out so you won't need an axe or spikes. Hope this helps!

Thank You!
08/25/2013 17:25
I appreciate you providing the update.

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