The jewel of the San Juan Mountains is Mt Sneffels, a fourteener that splits the long ridge running above the skyline of Ridgway CO. It is simply breathtaking and rivals the beauty of the Tetons…at least us locals think so. I stare at this peak from the picture window of my house and have always drooled over the Snake Couloir slicing the north face in half.
On May day, they finished plowing the road to Yankee Boy basin making the peak much more accessible by four wheel drive. Sara, Megan & I headed up with the gear to climb Sneffels and ski the Snake which means you come out on the other side of the range near the Blue Lake’s trailhead. There was only one catch, we didn’t set up a shuttle or have a ride out…..yet. On the drive in, we started to make calls to see if anyone was free to rescue three cute girls after the descent and with no luck, we started skinning up anyway with the option to ski back to the car.
We cramponed up one of the south couloirs and when we reached the summit it was a windless and beautiful – I whipped out my cell phone and to my surprise, I had coverage. I began making calls for a pick up which sounded something like this “Hi Chris, it’s Kim. I’m standing on the summit of Mt Sneffels with two other girls and we were wondering what you are doing in a couple of hours? Would you be willing to pick us up at Blue Lakes after we ski the Snake? Oh look up, you might be able to see us waiving to you.” Sure enough, he said yes which was perfect.
To get into the couloir we used ropes to traverse a steep chute to the start of the descent since there was definite consequences below. Once in the Snake, it is one of the most impressive big mountain, classic, kick ass lines I’ve skied. Not hard or even that steep (but steep enough to keep you on your toes) just an awe inspiring place to be! We skied one at a time and made the sharp curve into steeper terrain that gives this classic it’s name – also known to some as the “S” Couloir.
It took about three hours to ski the line and find our way out through the thick woods. We hit the road and my trusty friend Chris Whaling was waiting patiently, throwing snowballs for his dog with a six pack of beer. Big points for this dude! Once in a while you just get lucky.