Blaine Basin

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.00330°N / 107.792°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking
Seasons Season: Summer
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 2 or 3
Sign the Climber's Log


This is a beautiful and uncrowded approach to the best view of Sneffels's North face. Waterfalls, privacy, and wildflowers defined the experience in this easily reachable basin. The summit route, on the other hand, is not as user-friendly as Yankee Boy or presumably Blue Lakes, but is certainly do-able.

Getting There

Start at the very same trailhead as you would for Blue Lakes (the East Dallas Creek trailhead). Within 50 yards of the parking area, there is an obvious sign marking the diverging of the two trails. The right-hand one goes to Blue Lakes, so go left for Blaine Basin.

Route Description

The hike to Blaine Basin itself is a fairly easy 3-miler from your car. It's pretty flat for 2 of the three miles, with 4 stream-crossings, back and forth over Wilson Creek. The 'bridges' are primitive, but there are frequently options, so if one pair of downed trees looks shaky to you, head upstream a few yards, there is likely an easier one. At 10,000,' the trail leaves Wilson Creek and becomes steeper, passing an awesome waterfall. One of many you'll see on this route. 600 feet of uphill class 2 and the trail arrives in Blaine Basin, where there are great campsites. A short hike into the upper basin also offers decent sites right at treeline.

From the Basin, follow the trail to the extent that it is follow-able. That is, there are many technical routes, and equally many thin climbers trails. You'll want to pick your line towards the 'back' of the lavendar col for the non-technical route, and be careful not to follow 'trails' that will lead you astray.

The immense pile of glacial moraine will define your route for you. Climb grassy slopes right of the stream above treeline, and ascend straight up the buttress at the base of Sneffels. Then turn left (East) and traverse past a prominent rib to a couloir nearest the field of moraine. Turn right (south) and ascend parallel the moraine, following the valley between Sneffels and Cirque mountains, where it will seem to dead-end at the top of the moraine. Once you're almost all the way to the back of this valley, the final approach to the North side of the Lavendar col will become obvious. It's very steep and loose. That, combined with the circuitous route avoiding the loose moraine detract from this route ever being classified a 'classic.' But the scenic beauty and solitude to be had are worth checking out.

From the top of this steep scree field, you reach the Lavendar Col, where you join the standard (Yankee Boy Basin) route by turning right (West) up the final approach to the summit.

Essential Gear

Late June featured a fair amount of snow above 11,5. This route would be better even earlier, with more snow covering the scree, so crampons and an ice axe are essential. Though there's no trail, routefinding is pretty easy, and there's a trail to the basin, so one could get away without really needing to follow compass headings.

External Links

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