Monday, June 2, 2008

Snake Couloir and Yankee Boy conditions

Hello! I went up to climb the Snake Couloir on Sneffels this past weekend with a gentleman from New Mexico. He had done a couple good snow routes already this year, and was ready to sample one of the San Juan's finest.

Photo: North Face of Gilpin Peak May 31, 08
There is still a ton of snow up high, and climbing conditions were more like early May than June. We snowshoed in from the toilet to Lavender Col, passing a number of skiers and climbers enjoying the bluebird day. We set a comfortable camp on the snow, and took in the fantastic lenticular clouds ripping by in all directions.

Photo: Looking East to Kismet, Cirque, and Teakettle.Upper Lavender Col

We descended the north side of Lavender at 0500 and wrapped around the base of the North Face around 12,000ft. A few hundred flat foots, frontpoints, and ax plunges later we stood on the exposed snow arete poised below the summit block.

Photos: On the North Face.
Keith waited on the ledge while I led up the sweet, easy mixed finish. A quick belay and we both shared in the breezy summit solitude.
We cruised back down the normal route to camp, glissaded into Yankee Boy Basin, and snowshoed back to the truck.
Snow conditions are great for skiing or climbing right now. It has been an adequate freeze most nights. Good corn is easy to find most days, and steep couloirs offer the best access of the season to the area's coolest peaks. Sneffels, Teakettle, Potosi, Gilpin, Dallas, Mt Wilson, and El Diente all have excellent northern couloirs of different difficulties. Should be a couple more weeks of excellent skiing. Alpine climbing conditions should only improve thru June.

Onwards and Upwards! CC