Climbing Mount Sneffels | A Terrific Class 3 Climb
A lot of people say that climbing Mount Sneffels is Colorado’s best fourteener experience. Viewed from the Dallas Divide it has everything you’d want in a rugged mountain: Symmetry, high towers and pinnacles, and lush, aspen covered slopes. Mount Sneffels is also a great entry into Class 3 climbing, with a relatively simple route with limited exposure. It’s a great mountain to get your feet wet without too much risk. Before you attempt climbing Mount Sneffels, plan your trip there with my Route Guide.
Climbing Mount Sneffels: Fast Facts
Climbing Mount Sneffels - South Slopes
Your trip climbing Mount Sneffels starts with the trailhead – this peeak provides a few different trailhead options, depending on your vehicle. 2WD vehicles will need to park 1.5 miles from the lower trailhead. If aren’t an experienced 4WD driver, I recommend parking at the lower trailhead at 11,350 feet, as the road gets much worse after this. From here continue hiking up the road if you start here.
Continue up the road until you reach the upper trailhead around 12,4500 feet. Continue through the parking area onto a well-built trail that leads into the talus field ahead of you. A quick pause to look at the route sign here is often prudent.
Take the trail through the talus until you’ll eventually take a sharp right turn. This is where the hiking turns into scrambling and climbing for the rest of the route.
Looking up this broad-scree covered slope, you’ll have no clear trail to follow. Pick a line and start to climb up the peak. Climbing just left of the center of the slope provides the best rock. The rock is loose and ugly, so be careful and take your time.
At the top of the gully you’ll come out to a flat saddle below the summit. Turn to your left and identify another small gully that leads northwest up towards the summit. After stopping to check the weather, begin to climb this gully as well.
As you climb the upper gully, watch for snow and ice (crampons and ice axe are recommended if any significant snow exists). Take your time and keep climbing towards the top. Take care not to knock rocks loose down onto those below you.
Aim for a v-notch at the top of the gully. You’ll pass through this to reach the final crux of the climb. As you climb through, be wary of exposure on your left. Head right to climb the final section beyond the notch.
Climb right from the notch, up and to your left to gain the summit proper. The rock here is good and solid so the risk of rockfall is limited, but a helmet is still a good idea.
On the summit, enjoy your accomplishment! Make sure you descend with plenty of time to make it back to the trailhead before afternoon thunderstorms become an issue. I hope you found my Mt Sneffels Route Guide helpful and informative. Good luck climbing Mount Sneffels, and safe travels on the trail!
My Mt Sneffels Route Guide includes this handy topographical map of the route to the summit. It’s important to have with you while climbing Mount Sneffels. I recommend that you download a digital copy of this map on your phone, and also print out a paper backup copy in case anything happens to your electronics during your climb.
Besides reviewing this Mt Sneffels Route Guide, take time to research the weather forecast before you go. It’s a key step for climbing Mount Sneffels. Here are several dependable weather forecast sources for this route area.
Climbing Mount Sneffels is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.
- Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
- Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
- Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
- Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
- Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
Climbing Mount Sneffels is an inherently high-risk, dangerous activity. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my Mt Sneffels Route Guide accept all risks associated with climbing 14ers and do not hold this website or any information they obtain from it liable for any accidents or injuries that occur while engaging in these activities on Colorado’s high peaks. It is each hiker or climber’s responsibility to research their route carefully, bring the ten essentials, and practice other safe practices, though even these precautions do not eliminate risk and danger. Visit these summits at your own risk.
Alex is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others explore the mountains, stay safe, and preserve the peaks for the future. Subscribe to the Next Summit Newsletter here.