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Sneffels Stupidity

PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 5:56 pm
by skykilo
Friday morning I still haven't decided what to do. I text Rob and inquire about crashing there over the weekend. He's all right with that so to Durango I go. I give a drunk hitchhiking Chaman a ride from north of Espanola to Chama and he shotguns three Natty Ices en route. I get to Rob's place late and we have a beer and chat until past midnight. Four and a half hours of sleep later I make a move and after a stop at Bread (highly recommended bakery in Durango) I'm on my way.

Oh yeah, never heard of her until World Cafe on the radio in the car Friday night, but this lady is awesome.


The drive from Durango to Ouray has to be some of the most ridiculous highway in the USA. The drive ends a bit earlier than hoped and 3.7 miles from 550 I start skiing up the road toward Sneffels at about 8:15 am. That's later than I'd hoped and I'm lower than I'd hoped so I bust a move and make good time.

United Stated Mountain looks promising for future east-facing freeride excursions.
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Interesting flutings
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Now United States Mountain is in the distance down the valley and plenty of enticing terrain presents itself.
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I run into a nice couple at Scree Col high on the shoulder of Sneffels. I don't stop to chat long because I'm feeling a bit ambitious. I had never heard of this other line on Sneffels (or bothered to look) but last night I called my buddy Andy in Denver who told me about the Snake Couloir. The idea is to ski the Birthday Chutes on the south face first since they get the sun, then climb to the top and try the Snake Couloir. But people usually rappel into it. It sounds like there should be an easy way to scramble in there.

View to the north from the summit. I'll worry about how to get down there later. Time to ski some south-facing steeps now.
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Can I represent one time for the Land of Enchantment? The ski area above Telluride is visible in the background.
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Yeehaw for the Bday Chutes.
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I'm hungry. I can't believe it's hardly been more than four hours and I've climbed 5,000' and skied 1,500'. Time for a green chile croissant and some coffee.
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View of the Birthday Chute line skied from below on the return trip to Scree Col.
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This is the view of Cirque Mountain and upper Blaine Basin from Scree Col. If I ski the Snake Couloir this climb is going to be a real sting in the tail to end the day.
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I get to the summit and there's the couple I saw earlier at Scree Col. They just did a rappel to the top of the couloir. Now how should I get in there?
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I saw some reasonable snow to the east below the summit that might let me traverse into the top of that line. I try that first. I test the snow and do a lot of probing. There's something nice about the shallow Colorado snowpack. It's easy to probe the whole thing. The snow feels great at first until I get about halfway there. Then the options cease. I try this way, that way, every way I try I keep feeling rotten hollow snow over rocks. Scary scary, especially since I'm above a big cliff. I stick to some rocks and look for every option but there's just nothing I like. So I finally find a way to climb to the summit again. Phew. I'm a bit flustered and tired. That took a lot of energy, all that monkey business up here at 14,000'.

What are my options? I look down the rappel line and think, "It doesn't look that bad." So I downclimb it. It takes some gyrations and at the bottom I gingerly deposit my stuff into the snow below before I make the last move off the rocks. Later I look in the Roach guidebook and he calls it 5.6. I guess there were some shenanigans. I see the couple in the basin far far below as I prepare to ski.

The rappel/downclimb.
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Now for the goods!
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The terrain is wicked.
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I ski about 2,700' into the basin.
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(That's part of the Snake Couloir visible way up there.)

The couple has skied into the woods, I'm guessing to Blue Lakes which is a trailhead on a road not far from Ridgway. I have no such sensible strategy so what I get is another big climb to Scree Col.

The climb to the col really kicks my ass. At least the views are nice.
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I'm 100% fatigue-and-altitude drunk at the col. But my situation rapidly improves as it's one long ski to the car. I wasn't expecting a day like that. Thanks for the idea, Andy.

Today I poached a patch at some ranch on the drive home.
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Re: Sneffels Stupidity

PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 6:08 pm
by naomig
The mountains look beautiful there. Giant rocky peaks.

Re: Sneffels Stupidity

PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:50 pm
by Ldawson
Cool! way to get after it in CO. How far is it for you to the Elks? You should get up to the 14ers there this spring, there's some great skiing. I love the line about the shallow snowpack, haha.

Re: Sneffels Stupidity

PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 11:47 pm
by Diamond Dachshund
Looks like some nice lines you're getting just north of New Mexico there. Just don't forget where you came from. ;)

Re: Sneffels Stupidity

PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 11:49 pm
by skykilo
I'm definitely hoping to go Elk hunting one of these weekends too, Louie. Google maps tells me 5h24 for the drive to Crested Butte. But I'll be in your neck of the woods (wet and scrappy) next weekend.

Re: Sneffels Stupidity

PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 11:50 pm
by skykilo
Diamond Dachshund wrote:Looks like some nice lines you're getting just north of New Mexico there. Just don't forget where you came from. ;)


It's not where you live; it's how you live. I came from Hawaii, North Dakota and Texas first. So where does that leave us?

And speaking of remembering your roots, when will you return to Zion? Let's have some fun.

Re: Sneffels Stupidity

PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:17 am
by bissell
yes yes a great line that one on sneffels, we used to call it the trilogy, either way, it is a great one.
you might enjoy sheep chute on sheep mountain, not very steep, but a great powder skiing couloir, big and wide. as well, if i remember correctly, there are couloirs on that same aspect on sheep mt you could link up for a cool descent. or check out little wasatch face which was on your right as you exited bear creek after the san joaquin, there are some rowdy ski descents there.

Re: Sneffels Stupidity

PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:02 pm
by ryanl
Awesome Sky! Way to get it. Seems like Colorado has it's fair share of colorful people...

Re: Sneffels Stupidity

PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 3:00 pm
by ziff
sky, I don't see the stupidity in what you did!

Re: Sneffels Stupidity

PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:27 pm
by Alex
It seems to be sunny there as often as its not here.

Re: Sneffels Stupidity

PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:36 pm
by skykilo
Alex, you sound like you're having some angst. There there, you just had an awesome trip with Maddy last week! And April is notoriously foul in your part of the world anyway: warm and drippy like an STI.

BUT, I'll be up there next Friday and Saturday and it looks like there might be a window....

Re: Sneffels Stupidity

PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:37 pm
by naomig
ziff wrote:sky, I don't see the stupidity in what you did!

Apparently your sarcasm doesn't come through obviously enough.

Re: Sneffels Stupidity

PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2011 10:40 am
by DonJuanPakistan
Super cool TR. Especially seeing the voices that have chimed in. Fuck yeah gets me stoked.

Re: Sneffels Stupidity

PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2011 5:15 pm
by Atraslin
Looks your developing more red blood cells and spreading the sickness in Colorado.

Re: Sneffels Stupidity

PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2011 12:25 pm
by ziff
who said I was being sarcastic?