Peak(s):  Mt. Sneffels  -  14,155 feet
Date Posted:  05/27/2014
Modified:  05/29/2014
Date Climbed:   05/24/2014
Author:  SchralpTheGnar
 Sneffles Birthday Chutes and Camping in Colorful Colorado   

Any trip to the San Juans is always going to be memorable, with the peaks being far away from home I just don't make it down there. This would be my 4th trip down to the area and my first time attempting Sneffles. I remember the first time I saw Mount Sneffles driving down to Silverton for a climbing trip up the Wham Ridge, that was in the summer of 1999. It'd been a while to say the least.

Every Memorial Day we try to get out and do something, haven't been skiing much this year at all and this would be the first spring ski of the season. Some years we try to really get after it, this year I was feeling like skiing a peak, doing some camping, and r&r would be a nice way to approach the holiday weekend, a little variety never hurt anyone. So Mike, Adan and I made plans to camp in Ridgway, ski Sneffles on Saturday, do a short tour up into Blaine Basin on Sunday, then chill on Monday and head back to life. In the process I tried to capture pictures of the different colors in Colorado that help to make our state such a beautiful place to live.

We arrived at Ridgway State Campground around 7pm in a light rain and setup the tent in the rain, woke up around 5am and headed up into Yankee Boy Basin. Early morning drive up the YBB road.

Mike heading up slightly later early morning light in YBB.

Golden rays of sunshine

Colorful trailhead markers.

Deep blue skies, clean white snow, and dark rock.

At this point the pictures are slightly blurred due to some gum that I got on my my phone and couldn't clean just right, moving on...

Mike's tan arms climbing white snow in the lavender couloir

Mike straddling the summit ridge with some gray clouds building.

White folk on a mountain top.

Fluorescent green BD quadrants.

We decided to ski the birthday chutes, off the summit you traverse slightly to the left then you have a few options on what to ski. Turns just below the summit.

Lower down we found a narrow chute in between the two main chutes that looked like a fun ski and it was.

After skiing down into the basin we could see the peak with our ascent and descent clearly marked in blue and magenta, respectively. These markers decrease the chance of getting off-route markedly.

The whole trip went smoothly so nothing to exciting to say about it, just a classic ski with great access, skiing, and views. We made it back to the car at 12:30 about 5.5 hours round trip. Back in the jeep for the mud ride back to Ouray.

Looking down over the beautiful town of Ouray.

Colorful tents looking over the Uncompahgre river.

The rain picked up so we decided to take a nature walk to see if we could capture some more pictures of our colorful state.

Colorful rocks

and flowers

Here's a picture of a person taking a picture of a colorful rock shaped by water erosion.

Blue tin foil, red coals, and black chicken.

Next morning we woke up and headed up to blaine basin. Adan is ready to get after it.

Ominous clouds, menacing rock.

We made it to just below blaine basin, lost the trail then just decided to bail as bad weather looked like it was rolling back. It rained like you read about on 62 down to Ridgway, but cleared up just fine at our campground in time for the 7pm show featuring Adan on guitar and Mike on fire pit.

The night passed dry and we awoke to blue skies and more vibrant color surroundings.

All in all it was a great weekend away, and I am grateful to those who gave their lives serving this country so we can enjoy this brand of colorful freedom.

Comments or Questions
05/27/2014 19:11
And ditto your last line.

05/27/2014 19:20
Love all the different pics, especially the grill shot!

Great report!
05/27/2014 19:24
On thinking about doing something on the North side of Sneffels and have a couple of questions:

1) How close could you drive to the East Dallas Creek TH?

2) How were the stream crossings of Wilson Creek?

3) Was snow and postholing a major issue going up to Blaine Basin?

Thanks for your help.


blaine basin
05/27/2014 19:53
1. We started at the blue lakes th, Blue lakes trail went off to the right the trail we took went off to the left over a small bridge. i'm not sure if that's the same as the east dallas creek th, if so we could drive all the way up it, it was incredibly muddy on a lot of the road.

2. Made it across all stream crossings without getting wet, but a few got your attention.

3. On skis it was easy, on snow shoes my buddy was postholing quite a bit. The snow depth increased quite a bit after about a mile on the trail, the first mile had snow but it was all just the 3” new. Around 10-10.5k it got deep and we switched to skis and shoes.

Thanks for the update.
05/27/2014 21:47
Thanks, guys.

Blue LakesTH is the same and both of those routes start here as you described them.

I have wanted to go from here for a couple of years but I never quite get the timing right. It seems to be either posthole hell or, if I wait too long there is not much to ski.

Any fish?
05/28/2014 01:33
Catch any fish in that river in your last pics?

Skied the Birthday Chutes last year and it is one of my favorites. Nice work on a fun line.

some did
05/28/2014 14:31
We saw some people with fish... But not us - no gear.

Love the Teener Stoke

05/28/2014 22:19
How did the V-Notch look, was it filled in with snow?

No idea
05/29/2014 12:38
What's v-notch? I don't know what that is, most things above 11k had snow though

05/29/2014 18:34
No idea as well but it concerned me since I'll be there on the 31st. I had seen it described on the ”Mt. Sneffels From Yankee Boy Basin” route description as about 100 feet below the summit. (Image 27 on the route description)

You must have bypassed it or not had an issue...

05/30/2014 19:46
I think i understand, so as a snow climb, we left the couloir and then climbed a rock crux onto the upper snowy ridge. This was pretty hard with skis on the back and crampons on the feet, felt like pulling a low 5th class move. I just assumed we were off route because that's what we always do.

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