Morning light on S 9 and Hayden Peak Peak overview as seen from the road between Ridgway and Telluride
S 9 is a beautiful looking summit located west of Mount Sneffels. The western peaks of Mount Sneffels Wilderness are not often visited, expect solitude here. One can admire the peak from Dallas Divide - top of the pass along the road connecting Ridgway and Telluride. The usual access is from the south since the northern slopes are part of a private property and very steep.
S 9 combines nicely with S 8, Unnamed 13,020 and unranked 12er Hayden Peak. More ambitious climbers can add S 6, Mears Peak and S 7 for a long day.
S 9 is an ufficial name. On maps you may see only marked elevation of 13134.
What's up with the name? There are many summits that have unofficial names that have sprung up because of local usage or traditional agreement in the climbing community. Examples of these are some of the "T", "S", or "V" designation summits in the San Juans. S is after Sneffels, the highest mountain in the area.
- unranked summit between T 0 and S 5
S 4 - ranked peak, on a ridge extending from S 5
S 5 - unranked peak
- rarely climbed tricentennial, could be combined with Mears Peak and S 7.
- is really the main summit of Ruffner Mountain
and S 9 - accessible from Deep Creek drainage.
S 10 - a little complicated since List of John assigned this to Point 12,311
and Colorado 13ers assigns this name to a 13er west of S 9.
Colorado Rank: 543
S 9 summit view S 9
From State Highway 145 at “Society Junction”, 4 miles west of Telluride, drive on 145 just a little east past the junction and turn left (north) onto “Airport Road” = “the Last Dollar Road”, # 638.
Follow the road uphill and around a sharp turn at the head of a drainage. The road continues west past the Aldasoro Ranch entrance. Bear right when the Airport Road turns off for the Telluride airport. It becomes a good dirt road here - no need for 4 WD vehicles. Continue NW and in under a mile, park at the on the right in a trailhead parking area with a small corral. The Uncompahgre NR map indicates that this is the beginning for trail # 418. There is a sign for Deep Creek and Whipple Mountain Trails.
Avalanche debris Wildflowers
From the trailhead, follow trail # 418 marked as Deep Creek/Whipple Mountain Trail for a short distance on an open grassy slope. It then switchbacks briefly to the south and then back north to join an old roadbed beside a diversion ditch in an aspen forest. Follow this ditch for nearly a mile to where it crosses Sheep Creek. Past the creek, the trail turns west, still contouring, and then after about 200 yards, makes a sharp turn to the north. Continue along the ditch until you come to a place where the trail splits. Turn off from the big trail (almost like a 4 WD road) west on a well marked Whipple Trail - single trail. Cross the Deep Creek over a bridge, continue up and down into deep creek drainage. Eventually, you come to a place where the trail splints with a main trail going towards Whipple Mountain/Pass and a smaller trail (unmarked on most maps) leads higher into Deep Creek Basin. The trail was hard to follow. I remember going there in 2016 and it was easier, 2019 - there was a lot of fallen trees, avalanche debris and it made progress slow.
I opted out to re-climb S 8 and continue along the ridge towards S 9. The ridge between S 8 and S 9 is not technically difficult. The descent into the saddle was easy and fast. There was a one little obstacle, which I bypassed on its south side. I found a gully filled with loose scree on the southern side of S 9 and ascended up. The summit had a tiny cairn and a glass jar summit register. I was the first one to climb this peak in 2019, and there was only one entry in 2018. I descended the same way since the west side of S 9 is steep loose rock and would require a rock. BUT I left my sunglasses at the summit, so had to reascend the loose gully 2x.
Hiking, parking at the trailhead, camping in the wilderness are free.
Mount Sneffels Wilderness rules apply: The following are prohibited: Entering or being in the area with more than 15 people. Camping within 100 feet of any lake, stream, or National Forest System Trail. Building, maintaining or using a fire within 100 feet of any lake, or stream, or National Forest System Trail, above treeline. Storing equipment, personal property, or supplies for longer than seven days.
When to Climb
Summer is the easiest with a nice approach mostly on trails into the basin, higher up hiking is off trails. Winter poses a lot more difficulties with a long approach in a deep snow and travel through an avalanche prone terrain. Always check for Northern San Juan Avalanche forecast prior venturing out there.
Trailhead for Deep Creek and Whipple Creek is slightly off Last Dollar Road. The parking lot is spacious. There are signs for no camping, but I would imagine that sleeping in the car would be pretty comfortable here.
Camping is hard in the close vicinity of Telluride. The closest designated campgrounds are at the “Town Park” on the east end of Telluride and the “Sunshine” campground south of Society Junction on SH 145. Click here for more information on Telluride Camping.