Mt Sneffels has an incredible variety of routes and is the focal point of southwest Colorado alpine climbing. Whether climbing Sneffels in the spring with perfect firm snow conditions or in the fall during dry conditions it is one of Colorado’s best 14er climbs.
Why Climb With a Guide
Climbing with a guide has the benefit of being able to relax. Knowing you’ll be on the mountain with a guide who has been up there countless times keeps the day running smoothly.
This is an awesome peak in it’s own right! It’s also a great place to prepare for trips into the Alaska Range or Cascades where the routes have greater commitment. Spring snow climbing combined with rock climbing instruction is a great way to make an entrance to the complex and challenging world of alpine climbing. Check out our INTRO TO ALPINE CLIMBING course if you are interested in a multi-day skill development course.
This is a private program, no one else will be paired with your party. The maximum group size depends on the objective, but in most cases you can expect a guide with every 2 climbers.
Time and Place
This trip typically meets at Basecamp Bouldering in Ouray. As an alpine objective, it may be necessary to start early in the morning to align the time on the route with the best conditions or a specific weather window.
All the technical climbing equipment required for this outing is included.
Lavender Col Route
The Lavender Col Route is the easiest route to the summit and it can be enjoyed by beginners with good fitness. The route follows the Blue Lakes Trail to the upper reaches of Yankee Boy Basin where a climber’s trail cuts off to Mt. Sneffels. The climber’s trail is followed up a broad scree slope to a notch at 13,500 feet, called Lavender Col. From Lavender Col, the route steepens as it ascends Lavender Couloir, a 40 degree gully that leads almost to the summit. This section is snow covered in April, May, and early June and will require crampons and ice axe to securely navigate. During the mid and late-summer it is snow free and simple hiking shoes will suffice. From the top of the couloir, a short step of rock scrambling (3rd-4th class) leads to the upper slopes of the peak. We traverse the upper slopes using a mix of hiking and moderate scrambling (sometimes roped) to reach the summit. This route typically takes 7-9 hours car-to-car and involves approximately 4.5 miles of hiking and 2800 feet of elevation gain/loss.
The Southwest Ridge Route is also accessed via the Blue Lakes Trail in Yankee Boy Basin. Where the trail crosses Blue Lakes Pass, the climbing route turns North and climbs from the pass onto the Southwest Ridge of Mt. Sneffels. Most of the lower ridge is non-technical, no need for a rope, but about midway up the ridge the character of climb changes considerably. A short section of 4th class/low 5th class climbing marks the entrance to the upper ridge. From this point on, the climbing steepens and the ridge narrows. We continue ascending the ridge on Class 2-3 terrain until the summit is reached. We descend the Lavender Col Route back to Yankee Boy Basin. This makes for a complete circumnavigation of the South side of Mt. Sneffels, an awesome tour of the peak and a great day of alpine climbing. This route typically takes 7-9 hours car-to-car and involves approximately 5 miles of hiking and 2800 feet of elevation gain/loss.
Located on the North side of Mt. Sneffels, the Snake Couloir has steep snow and ice climbing up to 55 degrees and a 100’ pitch of mid-5th class rock climbing. It is the most classic alpine climb in the range and a great accomplishment for any climber. It is also an excellent training ground for learning alpine mountaineering skills such as crampon use, ice axe use, and technical ropework. This climb typically takes two days car-to-car (with an overnight camp in between) and involves approximately 11 miles of hiking and 4500 feet of elevation gain/loss.