Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 38.00695°N / 107.83122°W
Additional Information County: Ouray
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Elevation: 13242 ft / 4036 m
Sign the Climber's Log


S 4S 4 as seen from the approach of upper basin
S 4S 4 as seen from the base of orange gully (slightly to the left of the center)
Mount SneffelsMount Sneffels as seen from upper basin
Orange gullyOrange gully on the descent - really loose
S 4 is an unofficial name for peak 13242 in the Sneffels range. It provides a fun scramble and incredible views in all directions, especially over 14er Mount Sneffels. It is good to research your route prior the adventure - route finding is not easy. I have tried once without any beta and got cliffed out, so my second trip I did down load GPS points, which helped greatly. The access is along a popular Blue Lakes trail. 

Guide to the Colorado Mountain with Robert Ormes provides only a 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. The summit of S 4 (13,242') is perched on a ridge extending 0.5 mile east from S 5, and is also most accessible from the basin west of the lower lake. The SJM (San Juan Mountaineers) designated S4 as Wolcott Mountain. However, the updated USGS map shows that peak as the 13,041' high point of an isolated ridge 1 mile northwest of S4. Today's Wolcott and the massive frontal cliffs of S4 are spectacularly viewed from a clearing about 2 miles up the Blue Lakes Trail from the parking area."

Colorado Rank: 445

Parent Lineage: S 6

Wilderness: Mount Sneffels

Class: 3 (expect a lot of loose terrain). 

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 ( and List of John) etc.

S 1 is a little protruding knob between Teakettle and Potosi Peak. It is more known under the name of Coffeepot. S 2 is the older name of Mount Ridgway. And the S peaks continue up to S 9.

Nearby Peaks


Getting There

Directions for Blue Lakes Trailhead: 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.

The trailhead is very popular and it may be hard to find a parking or camping on busy summer days. 


Summit of S 4Summit of S 4 with Mount Sneffels in the background
West Ridge of S 4West Ridge of S 4
Start on the Blue Lakes trail, easy to follow as it ascends to the first Lower Blue Lake. It is about 3.4 miles to the first lake. Walk along west side of the lake and start to follow steep grassy slopes up hill westwards into the upper basin. There is no trail anymore, but walking it not too hard. Study the map below. The goal is to approach the ridge on S4 from the west. I once ascended a gully from the east (facing Mount Sneffels) and got clipped out. 

There is a steep loose orange gully leading to the ridge. Once you reach the ridge, the scramble becomes more fun. The summit has a small cairn and very cool old summit register (2020). I would recommend the climb in early summer, when the approach gully has still snow. I prefer snow ascent over loose scree. 

Red Tape

There is no red tape. Hiking the popular Blue Lakes trail, camping, and exploring the area are free. 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.

If traveling during the winter, always check northern San Juan Avalanche forecast. 


There is free dispersed camping at the trailhead, but the area if very popular and may be hard to find a spot during the summer weekend. You can sleep in a car at the parking area. Backpacking camping is available at the Lower Blue Lake. 

External Links