Mt. Sneffels Snake Couloir

June 2012

Mt. Sneffels, Colorado
14,150 Feet
(Snake Couloir in red)

Mt. Sneffels is one of Colorado's spectacular fourteen thousand foot peaks.  It towers over the beautiful San Juan Mountains, guarding the alpine mountain town of Ouray.  In 2002, we climbed Mt. Sneffels via the standard route, but this time it was time to up the challenge and climb the mountain by a technical route up the classic Snake Couloir on the north face.  The Snake Couloir is rated Steep Snow with a final pitch near the summit of mixed rock.  Much thanks to friend, Blaine Fike, for coming along and showing the way up this classic route.   Scroll down for photos of this great climb.

Blaine is at the trailhead getting ready to start our approach.

Heading up the trail for a nice three-mile backpack to the start of the climb.

Blaine continues up the trail about halfway to the basin.

Once at Blaine Basin, Mt. Sneffels looms above with the obvious route beckoning.

Blaine relaxes in the basin while contemplating the route.

At 5:00 am, Alan begins the approach.

Just after sunrise, Blaine is just below the entrance to the couloir.

Alan enters the Snake Couloir.

Blaine nears the crux of the route at about 60 degrees of ice/snow.

Alan also at the crux.  Using ice axes and crampons was a completely new experience.

Alan above the crux with Blaine as tiny dot below.

Blaine taking a breather on a beautiful day with perfect weather.

Finally above the steep snow and getting ready to begin the rock pitch.

Blaine puts together a great lead on the M6 pitch of ice/rock near the summit.

Classic summit shot!

Beginning our descent down the class 2 standard route.

Almost back to camp during still perfect weather.

Our little camp below Mt. Sneffels.

Panoramic of Blaine Basin and Mt. Sneffels

Thanks to Blaine for use of his photos and for the great day in the mountains.