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Mount Sneffels
May 25, 2008

Partners: Frank Konsella

Route Description: From Yankee Boy Basin, up Lavender Col. Descended on Birthday Chutes.

Data: Began at 6:45 am from where the road was plowed, which was a few hundred feet below the official trailhead. The TH is at 10,720’ and we began around 10,400’. We followed Yankee Boy Basin up to the Lavender Col and then up the Col Couloir. We arrived at the summit (14, 150’) around 10:00 and began descending around 10:30 am. We arrived back to the TH at 11:15 am. Total vert climbed and skied: 3,700’. Total time: 4.5 hrs.

Relevant Links: TGR Trip Report

After skiing Missouri on Saturday, I headed over to Crested Butte for a day of rest. The weather was still a bit unstable and we were debating between hitting Sneffels or Wetterhorn on Monday. After skiing powder on the north face of Missouri, we'd hoped that the north-facing Snake couloir on Sneffels would also be stacked with fresh snow. So, on Sunday afternoon we headed south to Sneffels!

In November of 2006, Frank and I attempted Sneffels. However, weather and snow conditions were not in our favor. We reached the top of the Col Couloir, and didn't have crampons. There was a crux that we could not get past. So, we turned around about 100' from the summit. Sneffels had to wait until later...

From the north, Sneffels appears as the most prominent peak in the San Juans.

On the way to Sneffels we passed through the beautiful town of Ouray, one of my most favorite towns in Colorado.

The road up to the Sneffels trailhead is adventurous itself.

Higher up the road, evidence of the huge San Juan winter was everywhere. The season's continuous avalanches took a toll on the forest's old trees.

This slide path was new. If you look past the first few trees you can see the path all the way up to the top of the mountain. The slide took a turn to the right before crossing the road.

Higher up, snow was plentiful. We were thankful that they had plowed the road!

We lucked out, as the road was plowed nearly to the trailhead.

The next morning we woke up to clouds and wind. Lots of wind. The poor weather sucked away our early-morning motivation, and we didn't start out until 6:45 am.

This picture says it all. The San Juans have a LOT of snow.

I truly can't believe they plowed this road!

Skinning up Yankee Boy Basin.

The clouds may have obstructed some of the scenery, but they did provide some amazing light.

View of the Birthday Chutes off the southwest side of Sneffels.

Our original intention was to climb the Birthday Chutes to the summit. But the winds were still high. So, we opted for the easier Lavendar Col route. We were able to skin nearly to to Col before switching over to boot packing.

Frank on the Col, bracing after the wind knocked him down.

Me climbing up the Col Couloir.


This picture shows the crux at the top of the couloir that stopped us in November, 2006. On that trip the snow prevented us from being able to climb it. On this trip, the snow made it easier to climb. Thankfully, previous users had blazed the trail and the steps were solid.

On the summit!

Telluride looks like it should still be open for skiing!

Wilson Group.

The San Juans are still a sea of snow. Here it is still winter.

View north, to the green valley, where it is spring.

We wanted to ski the Snake Couloir, but when we arrived at the summit the wind was howling, knocking us down to the ground. The Snake requires a rappel. With the high winds, the thought of dealing with a rope and harness seemed impossible. So we opted to descend down the Birthday Chutes instead.

Looking down the Snake. Recent tracks can be seen.

Putting my skis on at the top of the summit was one of my more scarier experiences. I was scared the wind would blow my skis right on over into the Snake Couloir, and I was afraid the wind would carry me with my skis. Frank accidentally snapped a picture of me getting blown over by the wind just after putting on my skis.

Once we dropped down into the Birthday Chutes, we were more protected from the wind.

The conditions were a bit icy at times, and we became the king and queen of jump turns!

Some guys like to flex their muscles. But, Frank likes to flex his skis.



Frank skiing in Yankee Boy Basin.

We were back to the car before 11:15 am, making it a 4.5 hr 3,600' vert day! I wish all the fourteeners could be done in under 5 hours ;)


Photos contributed by Frank Konsella.