Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sneffles Southwest Ridge

Shelz and I decided to brave the Class 3 Southwest Ridge of Sneffles on a fine July weekend.  We arrived Friday night amid a hail and sleet storm.  It was so wet that we decided to sleep in the pickup cab rather than try and set up a tent.

We woke after an uncomfortable sleep and took the truck up the 4WD road to a point just below the lower trailhead.  The hike to Blue Lakes pass was very picturesque and enjoyable.  Once up the switchbacks you get a glimpse of the ferocious gendarmes that guard the start of the ridge.  Luckily these are avoided on the west side.

Once past the gendarmes the ridge progresses steadily from hard class 2 to easy class 3 to harder moves.  This was Shelz first big class 3 outing so it was a descent choice for a noob.  She tackled the climb with aplomb.  Route finding was even a test as you pass to the east side and do a bit of descent via a notch in the ridge.

The climbing continues in a fun fashion until you see the final pitch.  The climbing became a bit harder here due to the line we took.  A couple of times we had to retreat and find another way up.  Shelz even slipped once providing a tense moment.

The views on top are amazing.

Our descent followed the standard Sneffels route.  At top it is still some class 2+ ridges but then descends into a nasty scree and dirt slope.  Shelz decided a dirt and mud glissade was best for her.

The shelf road on the way out is crazy for sure.  Once down into Ridgway we stopped at Colorado Boy for a brew and a souvenir T-shirt.  A great adventure in the San Juans!

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