Ascent of Mount Sneffels on 2017-09-21

Climber: Mike Wright

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Thursday, September 21, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Sneffels
    Elevation:14150 ft / 4312 m

Ascent Trip Report

Drove up to the first sign for 4wd and parked. The road ahead looked to be too aggressive for the van. I quickly got ready and got on the road hoping to hitch a ride up to the upper trailhead some 2 miles up. Within a few hundred yards I heard some vehicles approaching. The first jeep looked not to be amenable to a hitcher but the second jeep stopped as I made eye contact. They were a sweet retired couple John & Mary from Missouri. I asked them if I could hitch a ride with them. John, a Vietnam vet and Mary a retired manager of promotional programs for O'reilly auto parts asked how far I was going. I said I would go till they turned around which I knew could be the trailhead at the end of the line. Or anywhere before if they chose to bail. They said it would be fine and I loaded up in the back seat. The road was pretty rough up to the crapper and was glad I decided to park lower. After the crapper the road got significantly harder and 4wd was certainly required. At approximately 12000 ft they decided the road was too steep and agressive and decided to turn around. I jumped out and thanked them profusely for the lift.
The remainder of the road walk was short and I was soon at the trailhead. I had passed a man of 77 years that was going to climb sneffels though moving slow. I would not see him the rest of the day. He was a gamer though. Having walked the entire road with a day pack. I hoped they were able to hitch a ride back down.
The trail to sneffy is supposedly 1.2 miles long. But took me 2 hrs to ascend via the standard route. I walked the first traversing section with a man from Chicago who said he'd climbed Blanca a few days prior. He had interesting stories of charity bike tours for 9/11 police and that he lived across the street from the legendary NY Yankee Moose Skowron. Including how he got the nickname Moose. He was in-shape but moving very slowly. The first obstacle is the steep scree slope which I trended to the left of in favor of larger talus and rock. Despite it feeling easier it was still very steep all the way to the saddle. Somewhere on the low part of this slope I bid farewell to Mike from Chicago and would later see him turning down slope. At the saddle I moved quickly to the coulior to get out of the wind which was blowing at 20-25 with gusts up to 45. I was certainly feeling blown around. The coulior was much of the same as before. Steep hiking up your choice of scree or talus. All loose. I arrived at the entry to the notch. Using the 14ers beta photo I turned left and climbed a short face to a steep gully depositing me at the foot of the notch. Had I climbed another 20 ft up the coulior I could have avoided this bit and walked directly to it. Oh well. Good warm up.
At the notch I contemplated several options for climbing it. While also considering a steep class4-5 way around it directly right 5 ft. I climbed a little up the right side option and thought the consequences of a fall from there were not what I wanted as it climbs pretty high before a steep step left. I tried the notch again and felt the way up was to remove my pack and push it ahead leaving me the option to chimney. This worked well though I climbed directly using a hidden low right foot and some higher right hand holds/jugs. I climbed slowly and deliberately since I was totally alone with no one on top or coming up behind me. I didn't want to fall out. Once I achieved a good left foot I was home free though there was ice packed into the chock stones that look to be good hand holds. So I sat in the notch and used my trekking pole to chop out the ice from the chock stones in case I wanted them for the down climb. Then moved on through and walked easily to the summit on good ledges and signed the register. On the descent I once again removed my pack and reversed the moves face-in on occasion utilizing the chock stones for hand holds.
The remainder of the walk down the route was ardious. Trying to just stay on my feet was the hardest part. The steepness and the scree combined to make it slow going. I returned to the upper lot having seen only 4 more parties of 2, the rest of the day. All on the lower slopes. It took a full 2 hrs to hike down to this lot. The remainder of the walk down the road was trivial.
The views on this hike were some of the best Ive seen despite the nature of the hike itself, even down the road.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cold, Extremely Windy, Clear
Clear, cold winds 20-25 with gusts to 45.

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