Mt. Sneffels

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    The Plan

    I’m treating myself to a closer, shorter mileage 14er today — Mt. Sneffels! So many friends have said this is their favorite peak so I’m excited to give it a go.

    The Adventure

    I left the condo a little before 5 am and arrived at the 2WD trailhead at 6 am.

    The darkness was a relief because yikes! This shelf road is intense! Grizzly Gulch was just a warmup compared to this.

    The road itself is very manageable, but it’s skinny and runs along the edge of a very high cliff with occasional rock overhangs. It gets a bit rougher after the split for Imogene Pass but it’s nothing the Subaru can’t handle.

    There’s a sizable clearing 0.1 miles before the split for Yankee Boy Basin and I park my car here, not wanting to push it as trailhead condition reports said the road requires high clearance 4WD past this point.

    I take a few minutes to eat my overnight oats, then layer up because according to my car, it’s 38°F out there! Brr!

    Hoofing my way up Yankee Boy Basin road, I’m glad I didn’t drive my car further. There are definitely several spots where I would have been scraping something. 

    Mt. Sneffels, Yankee Boy Basin Road
    Looking back down Yankee Boy Basin road
    Mt. Sneffels
    High-clearance 4WD recommended

    By half a mile in, the juices are flowing and the hat and gloves come off.

    I reach the outhouse trailhead in 30 minutes, smelling it before I see it. It’s a super weird toilet with a conveyor belt bottom. A foot pedal on the side inches the conveyor belt along to “flush” and someone left their #2 pride and joy front and center. Gross. Probably why it smells so bad.

    When the road starts to feel like it’s dragging on, I turn on some OneRepublic and the mood shifts. I don’t normally listen to music while hiking but I’ll make an exception for road hiking.

    The road continues on and on. A pair of hikers carrying loads of coolers and bags on their front, back, and arms return from what only could have been some ultralight backpacking. (Kidding.)

    A Jeep passes me and the teenager at the wheel has a huge grin on his face. I’m a wee bit envious. 

    The Native album ends right as I arrive at the Yankee Boy Basin trailhead a little before 8 am. Perfect timing! And only 1.2 miles to the summit of Mt. Sneffels. 

    The trail starts out through a rock field. I’m glad I have my hiking boots for the ankle support.

    Mt. Sneffels
    Following the talus trail up to the gully

    This wind is calm and I feel the warmth of the sun in the valley. It’s peaceful and harmonious. 

    The pikas are plentiful up here. I’ve never seen so many in such a short span. 

    They also seem rather fearless, coming so close to the trail. Each one holding its ground as I walk past.

    A pika coming out to say hi

    I reach the split for Blue Lakes Pass and Mt. Sneffels at 8:10 am and branch right. 

    It’s hard to believe there’s only 0.7 more miles to the summit! 

    I mentally prepare myself for how steep it’s going to be with over 1,400 ft of elevation gain left.

    Mt. Sneffels
    The split for Mt. Sneffels

    The Slope

    I throw on my helmet at the bottom of the slope because there are hikers above me and I ain’t no fool.

    I tread slowly on all the loose rock and work my way up, eventually shifting over to more stable rocks along the edge. I cycle between the big rocks, little rocks, and sand. None of which offer ideal footing.

    The Slope
    The Slope

    The Gully

    Arriving at the bottom of the gully at 9 am, I stop for a snack and some photos.

    In the gully, the rocks are larger and easier to climb, however, there are still plenty that are loose and try to slide out under my feet. 

    The Gully
    The Gully

    The Notch

    Eventually I reach the notch and climb through. There’s a little bit of exposure to the left which gets the butterflies going. This is my favorite part of the Mt. Sneffels climb!

    The Notch
    The Notch (best part of the hike!)

    Once through the notch, I’m almost to the top and I summit at 9:45 am. My 35th 14er!

    Mt. Sneffels
    Views from the summit of Mt. Sneffels
    Mt. Sneffels | Dani's Drive
    My 35th fourteener!

    On the summit I find a nice lounging rock and I spend a good hour up here admiring the views.

    The Chaise Lounge
    The Chaise Lounge
    Mt. Sneffels
    The San Juan Mountains never disappoint
    Mt. Sneffels

    Blue Lakes (read about that hike here!)

    I start heading down with some friends I met along the way so we can spot eachother back through the notch. We’re back into the gully before 11 am and then at the top of the slope at 11:25 am. 

    The path down the slope is treacherous with all the loose rock but by noon, I’m finally onto flatter ground and at 12:20 pm I arrive at the upper 4WD trailhead. The friends are in a 4Runner and I gladly accept a ride down to the 2WD trailhead, stopping for a couple glamour shots along the way.

    Thankful for the ride down! Will also happily exchange glamour shots for rides 🙂

    The Stats

    Stats (per Strava, check out the full stats here):

    • Distance: 5.97 mi
    • Elevation Gain: 3,410 ft (Strava doubled this in the app. No, I didn’t hike it twice 😉 )
    • Total time: 6 hr 28 min
    • Moving time: 3 hr 28 min
    • Average speed: 1.7 mi/h

    Gear Recommendations

    Trekking poles recommended? Could go either way. Trekking poles would have been useful on the bottom part of the slope, but on the upper half of the slope and the gully, I definitely needed my hands free.

    Shoe verdict: Hiking boots were the right call for the extra ankle support. There’s a lot of loose rock on this trail.

    Planning to hike a 14er soon? Check out my packing list and download the summit signs!

    Curious to see what other adventures I’m getting into during my 5 weeks living in Montrose, CO? Check it out here!

    Have you hiked Mt. Sneffels? I'd love to know what you thought! Leave a comment below!

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