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Mount Sneffels via Yankee Boy Basin
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2016-09-19  
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Mount Sneffels via Yankee Boy BasinSouthwest, CO
Southwest, CO
Hiking avatar Jul 14 2016
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Hiking6.76 Miles 2,534 AEG
Hiking6.76 Miles   7 Hrs   47 Mns   1.64 mph
2,534 ft AEG   3 Hrs   40 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Despite having many experienced hikers at the family reunion in Ouray, the only one still up for the trek at zero hour was my brother-in-law, John. We headed out at 6:00 am in a borrowed truck, whose fairly pristine condition dissuaded us from driving beyond the lower trailhead. The trek from there to the upper TH seemed like half the trip, but it was nice in the cool morning air.

The fun really started at the bottom of the talus. It started steep and quickly got very steep. We sort of angled to the right and kept on that track until slope was only marginally stable. I went back over to the left, losing some elevation as I slid on a patch of scree between the two forks. John didn't like that crossing, so he followed the right all the way up, using handholds in the cliff face for the last 100 yards. He decided the left was better.

We stopped for lunch at the saddle, and noted how much snow remained in the upper couloir. Some of the early climbers soon finished descending to the saddle. They described the modified route while a couple other groups began coming down. The later groups dislodged a boulder which rolled about 500 feet downhill and stopped a bit short of where I was eating. About then I decided that I didn't want to proceed without a helmet. The thought was reinforced when I looked down at all the people now coming up. I also didn't want to do as much bouldering as the modified route required.

We finished eating, took some pictures, and began the long, slow, descent. It seemed to take twice as long to get down, and it was a lot harder to keep from knocking rocks loose. We finally did reach the basin as the day was heating up, and started back to the truck. Along the way we stopped at Wright Lake and poked into a few old mines. Near the upper TH, people were zipping around on 4-wheelers and somebody was flying a drone. John gave a few gestures when it flew in his face, before zipping over private property on the other side of the creek.

It was roasting hot when we reached the truck, and it was a long, slow ride down to the highway now with the passenger mostly sitting on the side of the abyss. The truck stayed wheels-down all the way, and we celebrated with some iced coffee in town.

Next time I'm bringing a helmet.
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