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Liba Kopeckova

Liba Kopeckova - Sep 7, 2011 9:44 am - Hasn't voted

A.K.A. North Buttress

Both Gerry Roach and Louis Dawson call this climb North Buttress in their Colorado Fourteeners guide books. Neither of them provides too detailed description.

Dedicated mountaineers should place this "directsima" classic on their must-to do list. The route follows an airy buttress up Mount Sneffels' majestic north face citation from Dawson.

Both authors rate it as 5.6 climb.

I guess I am not a dedicated mountaineer b/c I found only first 2 pitches interesting, and did not enjoy at all loose rocks and higher up muddy sections (especially when crossing Snake Couloir at the top - it was all slippery mud). But, the first 2 pitches were surprisingly solid.

The start of the climb is easy to find. As you are approaching the north face, you will see three major couloirs filled with the snow - the most western one is Snake (the snow is there year round - we had an old snow in September). You will start your climb between the Snake couloir and the central couloir. We found an old piton there, so the first belayer can secure him/herself right at the base of the climb. We also saw remains of ropes, and some fixed rope maybe 15 meters above the ground.

Start early. It is definitively not a 1/2 day outing (unless you are a superman/superwoman). I lost count of all pitches - perhaps 7-8 sixty meter rope length. I had no idea how long is the climb, and remember looking at Teakettle, and checking whether we are above that mountain. I knew Teakettle is above 13,800 feet. Again, the first 2 pitches are climbing, higher up class 3-4 scramble, very loose, we dislodged many rocks, and occasionally you will encounter low 5th class moves. We kept climbing roped, also higher no protection placed between the anchors. To speed up the process we hip belayed (climber was moving too fast for a normal belay).
Blaine Basin Trailhead is at 9,330 feet high, so you have to gain nearly 5,000 feet in altitude. The trail to Blaine Basin is easy to follow, but the last section to get to the climb is more challenging. You will have to cross some steep snow - consider bringing a light ice axe. Otherwise, you don't need much gear - we had a few nuts and hexes.

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