I chose S 3 because I wanted a solitude and also was exploring the area with the idea of scouting out new routes, e.g. West Dallas from Upper Blue Lakes (scree, scree - will wait for the snow). S 3 gave me also a great overview of routes up Mears Peak from Deep Creek Drainage, S 4 and S 5. Expect off trail hiking and a lot of scree higher up. The views of Mount Sneffels
from this tour are amazing! and you get to hike the popular Blue Lakes Trail.
What is up with those names? There are many summits that have unofficial names that have sprung up because of local usage or traditional agreement in climbing community. Examples of these are some of the "T" or "S" names in San Juans. Even though these names typically do not appear on the USGS topographic maps or in other official sources, those names are used in books, websites (13ers.com and List of John) etc.
is a little protruding knob between Teakettle and Potosi Peak. It is more known under the name of Coffeepot
And the S peaks continue up to S 9.
Guide to Colorado Mountains with Robert Ormes
(sort of a bible of Colorado mountains) provides only a very brief mention: "Accessible from the upper cirque 1.2 miles west of lower Blue Lake, S 3 (13,410) and S 5 (13,360) rise on the divide crest".
From Highway 62 between Ridgway and Telluride take Dallas Creek Road (right before Ralph Lauren's ranch). Drive 14 miles on well marked dirt road for 14 miles to the trailhead. The dirt road is in a good condition and passable even for passenger cars. It is well marked - follow signs for Blue Lakes Trailhead. There is camping at the trailhead.
S 3 and the loose scree on its slopes
South ridge up S 3
Rise: 270 feet (almost a ranked peak, 300 feet is the Colorado rule)
Saddle: 13,140 feet
Parent Lineage: "T 0"
I ascended the loose scree between S 3 and T 0 ridge (much closer to S 3). Find the easiest path and go up. I have caused a few little rock slides since the terrain is unstable. Once you reach the ridge the walking is easy - see photo on your right.
I did not see any route which could avoid the scree.
The summit had a small cairn. There was no sign in register.
There are some prohibitions listed in Mount Sneffels Wilderness website: 1. Entering the area with more than 15 people per group and maximum combination of people and stock not to exceed 25 per group.
2. Camping within 100 feet of any lake.
3. Building a fire within 100 feet of any lake or trail and above treeline.
4. Storing equipment, personal property, or supplies for longer than 7 days.
When to Climb
Any time is good, but the road to Blue Lakes Trailhead is closed in the winter. Summer is the easiest. Early summer may be better since the upper slopes will be covered with snow and you can snow climb instead of scree hike.
The area around Blue Lakes is a popular back country camping spot. There are several primitive camping spots and you have to be within 100 feet away from the lake. The upper basin below S 3 tends to get windy, there are no trees, but camping would be an option as well.