Our first day will include an introduction to technical rock climbing at a rock climbing crag in Ouray. Participants will learn techniques for belaying, rappelling, and movement on technical rock. There will also be an introduction to anchor building with artificial climbing protection. At the conclusion of the day, we will drive to a campground in the mountains where we will spend the night before hiking into Mt. Sneffels the following day. At camp in the evening, we will do a gear check and review packing techniques for carrying a mountaineering backpack.
Starting at the Blue Lakes Trailhead on the North side of the Sneffels Range, we will hike for 3.2 miles and an ascent of 1400’ to a beautiful alpine camp near treeline. During the hike we’ll introduce wilderness navigation principles and map reading. After settling into camp, we will begin our first lessons on ice axe use, self arrest, and techniques for kicking steps in snow. There are excellent snow slopes adjacent to camp that provide an ideal classroom for learning these skills.
After breakfast, we will start the day with lessons on crampon techniques, anchor building in snow, and belay methods for snow climbing. From there, we’ll progress into rope team travel techniques and crevasse rescue. The day will be packed with learning and every participant will get hands-on practice with each of the techniques that is introduced.
We will wake early for our ascent of Mt. Sneffels in order to capitalize on the firm snow conditions of the early morning hours. Traveling by headlamp, we will ascend the lower snow slopes of Mt. Sneffels into the alpine basin that looms above. Upon reaching the upper basin, we may choose from a variety of options for our ascent, depending on the group’s energy level and interests. We could ascend the Lavender Col route which includes steep snow climbing up to 40 degrees and a few hundred feet of moderate rock scrambling (class 3). Another option would be to ascend the Snake Couloir which includes steep snow and ice climbing up to 55 degrees and a 100’ pitch of mid-5th class rock climbing. Both routes offer exceptional opportunities to apply the skills learned in the previous days of the program. Each route also offers big mountain views and classic alpine climbing. Once we have stood on the summit and exchanged high fives we’ll descend the mountain back to our camp and return to the car. We should return to Ouray by 4:00.
- Tying into the rope and belaying
- Rock climbing movement skills
- Anchor building
- Self arrest
- Crampon techniques
- Route planning
June 15-18, 2019