Saturday, August 10, 2013

Mount Sneffels - Queen of the San Juans

Mount Sneffels is the Queen of the San Juan Mountains

At the Dallas Divide, a restrained landscape of lower hay fields gives way to riotous slopes of quaking aspen and colorful wildflowers. Rising above tree line is a sweep of rugged terrain composed of banded layers of rock, steep crags and serrated ridges. Positioned majestically amongst these enormous peaks is the "Queen of the San Juans".

Mount Sneffels is one of the most beautiful peaks in Colorado. The diamond-shaped, east face of Longs Peak is spectacular and the Maroon Bells are picture-perfect, but my favorite mountain is Sneffels. The odd name comes from the Hayden Survey of 1874. They thought the peak resembled the Icelandic, Snaefell volcano featured in Jules Verne's novel Journey to the Center of the Earth.

My two brothers and I reached the top of the world when we summited Mount Sneffels a few years ago. We bypassed the standard route that ascends a steep, scree-filled gully. Instead, we chose to scramble up the perilous southwest ridge. To achieve our lofty goal, we had to navigate a labyrinth of rock spires and crawl across a terrifying, knife-edge ridge.

I've approached Mount Sneffels from every direction, during different seasons and in all kinds of weather. Reaching the pinnacle was an awesome experience but the climb was never about bagging just another 14er. It was about building a relationship with the mountain and creating a bond with my brothers.

Elk in the lower hay fields

We had to navigate a labyrinth of rock spires

A sweep of rugged terrain

Mount Sneffels is a beautiful peak

The top of the world

Sneffels is one of the most photographed peaks

Snaefell is the Nordic word for snowfield

Fall colors below Mount Sneffels

Spring in the Sneffels Range

I've approached Sneffels from every direction

Reaching the pinnacle was awesome

Mounts Sneffels from the Dallas Divide



4 comments:

  1. I remember the climb well. It was very difficult, but exciting. I will admit I was kind if scared at times when we were on that ledge.

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    1. It was a monumental climb. The broken rock spires and pinnacles were awesome but the exposed ridge was absolutely frightening. The views from the top were some of the best mountainscapes I've ever seen. The hike up to Blue Lakes the next day was almost as good. I don't think I could make that climb again but I enjoy getting back into the area and seeing those incredible peaks.

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  2. Stunning photographs as always Dan! Looks so beautiful there!

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    1. Thanks Judi, it's probably my favorite place in Colorado. I had to get back there and show my kids where we used to climb and hike. They aren't as impressed with the mountains as I am, their best part of the trip was swimming in the hot springs pool at Ouray.

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