“Claws of Sneffels” - Coined by my hiking buddy, adventuring partner and awesome wife @ginastenback, we found ourselves in the Claws of Sneffels on two separate approaches of the magnificent mountain over the course of two days. First from the north via Dallas Creek and the rugged Blue Lakes trails outside Ridgeway, then from the southeast via the even yet more rugged 4WD roads into Yankee Boy Basin outside Ouray.
The first, as I previously wrote about, providing a not-so-gentle reminder to prepare for the unexpected, know your limits and revise plans accordingly. The second providing clarity into the stark contrast between the beauties and the beasts that are the high peaks of the Rockies, as we narrowly miss encroaching afternoon thunderstorms dry, but definitely a bit dirty and sore.
Although there are differing accounts, most believe Mt Sneffels is named after Snæfell, the glacier capped volcano at the tip of the Snæfellsnes peninsula in Iceland, famously featured in the Jules Verne novel “A Journey to the Center of the Earth.” Snæfell itself, the Nordic word meaning “snow mountain."
Sneffels summit stands at an elevation of 14,150 ft. making it the fourth highest in the San Juans behind Uncompaghre Peak, Mt Wilson and El Diente Peak. The igneous volcanic rock here in the Sneffels massif forms forbidding steep sided cliffs and pinnacles the give rise to jagged peaks and ridges. Composition of the rock is mineral rich, influencing the color of the areas famous Blue Lakes, yet also very loose, creating slippery scree fields.
Many of these peaks are not identified by name, rather, depending on which side of the mountain you look they are identified with an S - for Sneffels - followed by an ascending number ending with S10 or a T - for Telluride - starting with T0.