• Date - 06/06/2014
  • Elevation - 14,150'
  • Route - Snake Couloir
  • Miles - 7.8
  • Elevation Gain - 4,800'
  • ACME Mapper - Link
  • CalTopo - Link
  • Partners - Wayne Herrick, Brian Kooienga, Jeff Kunkle, Kevin Smith


Jeff planned a snow climb weekend in the San Juan Mountains that he invited us all on.  We left Denver, Colorado, at 8:00 pm on Thursday evening and made our way up Camp Bird Road by 1:30 pm.  After a couple of hours of sleep, we were up at 4:30 am and hiking into Yankee Boy Basin.  We snow-climbed up to the Lavender Col around 13,500' and then dropped east for 1,500' towards Cirque Mountain.  We essentially had to circle around to the north side of the mountain to access the Snake Couloir.  The weather, setting, and climbing were exceptional.  There was a bit of post-holing and kick-stepping up the apron and a short way up the couloir, but once in the confines of the Snake, the crampons and ice tools bit nicely into the firm snow.  We topped out five hours after leaving the lower four wheel drive trailhead and enjoyed the views for 30 minutes on the summit.  We simply went down the standard route back to the Lavender Col and were enjoying a beer at the trailhead after a 1.5 hour descent.


Jeff and Kevin on the approach.Lavender ColGilpin PeakWayne and JeffBrian, Kevin, and JamesBrianWayne, Jeff, and Kevin and the standard route to Mount Sneffels.Brian and Gilpin PeakBrian descending the back side of the Lavender Col.Kevin descending the back side of the Lavender Col.WayneJeff making the traverse to the base of the Snake Couloir.ApproachBrian and JamesBlaine BasinKevin and Brian traversing to the climb.Our first view of the Snake Couloir.Kevin and BrianBrian, Jeff, and Wayne kicking steps up the apron.Wayne nearing the narrow section of the route.Wayne, Jeff, and Kevin before the snow got solid.Entering the shade and better climbing conditions.The Snake Couloir before the left turn.ConstrictionLooking down the lower section of the Snake Couloir.Brian, Kevin, and James synchronized climbing.Kevin and Brian before we turned left.JeffLooking down the climb.Looking up the climb.Looking down the couloir.Jeff and Wayne topping out.Wayne nearing the short crux near the summit.Kevin and Brian nearing the crux step.Jeff at the top of the crux.Kevin in the chimney.James and Wayne on the summit.Summit PhotoKevin, Wayne, Brian, and JeffGroup Summit PhotoDescentDescentDescentLooking down the standard route.Hiking OutLavender ColJames hiking out with Teakettle Mountain, Coffeepot, and Potosi Peak.