BETA PHOTO: Beneath the north face of Mt. Sneffels.
Mount Sneffels, 14150 feet tall, is one of the most awe-inspiring mountains in the San Juan Range. Just drive south from Montrose to Ridgeway and the 6000-foot vertical relief of its northern aspect will have you aching to go climb it. Due to the nature of the volcanic rock that it is made of, Mount Sneffels has many wonderful couloirs to climb and ski separated by towering buttresses, and numerous ridges. The rock quality starts out bad down low and is equally hideous on top as well. Winter climbing on this mountain can be dangerous because of avalanche conditions. Mount Sneffels has a long climbing tradition. Most of the technical routes on the north face of the mountain were put up back in the 1930's and 1940's. There are many guides that cover Mount Sneffels quite well. Use Dawson's Guide to Colorado's Fourteeners, the Roach guide to the Colorado Fourteeners, Rock and Ice number 85 as just some examples of references.
Mount Sneffels has two trailheads. The Yankee Boy Basin trailhead is open year round and allows access for the snowier months. Beware of having to pay the man for the privilege to park in the summer months. Blain Basin or Blue Lakes trailhead is free year round, but smothered in by snow during the winter. Expect the road to the trailhead to be inaccessible until spring melt-off. Depending on year-to-year snow levels, Blue Lakes/Blaine Basin trailhead should be open by sometime in May.
To get to Yankee Boy Basin trailhead, go south from Ouray on Highway 550 and, just past the first switchback, turn right onto the Imogene Pass/Camp Bird Mine Road (road number 361). A two-wheel drive vehicle will get to a trailhead 7 miles up the road at 10,720 feet after the snow has melted off. A four-wheeled drive vehicle can make it up to a trailhead at 11,400 feet. From the trailhead, follow the old road and trail further up into Yankee Boy Basin.
To get to the Blue Lakes/Blaine Basin trailhead, take highway 62 west from Ridgeway for 5 miles. Look for Ouray County Road 7 on the left and a national forest access sign to point the way to the trailhead. Follow the trailhead access signs to East Dallas Creek Road and eventually the trailhead at 9,330 feet. From the road-closure gate, do not follow the Blue Lakes trail, but rather stick with the old road as it crosses the creek and heads uphill back to the north. Follow this old road around the hillside to Wilson Creek. Cross the creek three times and look for signs heading into Blaine Basin. There are numerous trail junctions, but they are all well signed. From Blaine Basin, the north face of Mount Sneffels should be visible. The trail into Blaine Basin is 3.2 miles or so and gains most of its elevation in the last mile. Good bivy spots are available in Blaine Basin.
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Mount Sneffels:
From Blaine Basin, a glance at the north face of Mount Sneffels will reveal a couloir bisecting the right hand side of the face. Climb up the couloir for over 1000 feet. It averages 40 degrees, but steepens to 50 degrees where the couloir necks down a bit, about half way up. At the halfway point, the couloir splits at a small rock pillar. Take the dogleg to the left. At the top of the couloir, either traverse east to connect to the final few feet of the normal route (yucky) or go straight u...[more]Browse More Classics in CO