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Dollar Couloir

Dollar Couloir

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Dollar Couloir

Page Type: Route

Location: California, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 34.11770°N / 116.85599°W

Object Title: Dollar Couloir

Route Type: Hiking, Mountaineering

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Time Required: One to two days

Rock Difficulty: Class 3

Difficulty: Basic Snow Climb

Route Quality: 
 - 1 Votes


Page By: Alex Wood

Created/Edited: Apr 27, 2009 / Nov 13, 2013

Object ID: 509108

Hits: 3429 

Page Score: 86.85%  - 23 Votes 

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Climbing up the Couloir
Climbing Dollar Couloir
Views Along the Way
Great Views

Dollar Couloir is a couloirlocated on the north face of Charlton Peak, in the San Bernardino Mountain. Dollar Couloir begins just above Dollar Lake (the namesake for this route). Camping can be done at this lake, however, you should avoid camping in this vicinity with unstable snow higher up. The couloir starts at around 9,450ft and then tops out at half a mile later at about 10,700, just shy of the summit of Charlton Peak at 10,806ft. The summit is just a short hike after the climb. This route is a pretty straightforward snow climb. The couloir is very wide in most places and is only narrow in one spot. The average angle for the route is probably 35 degrees with a max of around 41 degrees at around 9,990ft. Aside from being an excellent snow climb, the views off this route are amazing. You have views of the northern half of the "9 peaks" along with views of Big Bear Lake and much more of the San Bernardino Mountains. This route can dayhiked (its a long day that way), however, some may prefer to move more slowly and do a two day climb.

The route is obvious when approaching it on the Dollar Lake Trail. The North Face of Charlton looms in front and there is a visible scar in the direct center- this is Dollar Couloir. Dollar Couloir is just under a half mile long, but gains around 1,300ft of elevation.
Charlton Peak
Approaching Charlton Peak

Route Description

The easist way to access this route if from the South Fork Trail. You follow the South Fork Trail for 4.6 miles until you reach the Dollar Lake Trail split. This first part you gain about 1500ft of elevation. From here, follow the Dollar Lake Trail. You follow this trail for 1.8 miles and then you reach Dollar Lake. Another 1200ft of elevation is gained here. From the last part of the Dollar Lake Trail, you will see the route.
Dollar Couloir
The Route

Right add the Dollar Lake Trail split, begin heading south off trail towards a avalanche carved gully just above Dollar Lake. The trees here are sparse due to avalanches that rip through during winter. I think it was 2005 when a huge avalanche that initiated on this same couloir ripped down through Dollar Lake and past it. Be aware of snow conditions while on this route! The angle of the slope gradually starts to increase as you get higher up. The start of the couloir is around 30 degrees.
Avalanche Chute
Flagged trees, evidence of avalance activity

Dollar Couloir
At the base of the Couloir

Looking Up
Looking Up

At about 9,800ft, the couloir narrows alot and the angle goes up to around 41 degress. Without snow or with little amounts, this part is very rocky. However, when snow fills it up, it is easily bypassed. This whole couloir is treeless. However, there are trees along the outer parts, but these are puny at best...Once again, a result of avalanches.
Looking Down
Looking Down

The route angle the lowers to around 35 degrees and continues to decrease until the top. While going up the couloir, you think that the summit is in sight. However, these are false summits. At around 10,650ft, the couloir loses shape and you reach the broad summit of Charlton Peak. Head south to reach the true summit.
Almost at the top
Nearing the top

San Gorgonio and Jepson
Rewarding Summit View

Dollar Couloir:
Elevation Gain: 1,400ft
Mileage:.50 miles

Elevation Gain: 4,000ft
Mileage (Roundtrip) 14 miles

Getting There

From Redlands-
From interstate 10 at Redlands exit Highway 38/Orange Stree and drive northeast. Continue past the Forest Falls turn-off through the town of Angelus Oaks. Turn right on Jenks Lake Road just beyond a large parking area on the shoulder. The large trailhead parking area is on the left and right hand side of the road. Park here and begin the hike.

Essential Gear

Taking a  Breather
Taking a Break

Since this page is set up to be a snow climb, helmet (which would be recommended even without snow), crampons, ice axe, trekking poles, warm clothes, sun protection, skis (for those who want to ski this route down) and a good pair of hiking boots. Also, bring lots of water for late season attempts on this route.

External Links

San Bernardino National Forest

San Gorgonio Ranger Station
34701 Mill Creek Road
Mentone, CA 92359

San Bernardino National Forest
San Bernardino National Forest Website

San Gorgonio Wilderness Association
A website devoted to the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area with lots of information.

San Gorgonio Backcountry Board
A great place to find current conditions and recent trip reports about the area.

Charlton Peak Weather Forecast
The current weather conditions for Charlton Peak


If you have any more additional information or photos, please contact me or add them to this page. Thank you!

Additions and Corrections

[ Post an Addition or Correction ]
Viewing: 1-8 of 8    


Voted 10/10

I've got to say that I didn't find anything over 35-40 degrees at the steepest in this couloir. Kinda bummed cuz I sure wanted to do something steeper. Sorry, folks - Jepson's got the steep stuff!
Posted May 16, 2011 10:37 am
Alex WoodRe: Angle

Alex Wood

Hasn't voted

So what would you say the max angle you found was? Looking back, I can definitely say its not 50 degrees haha.
Posted May 16, 2011 4:18 pm
DebRe: Angle


Voted 10/10

If I HAD to give a single number, it would be 37 degrees. I know when I hit 40 cuz I am ready to climb on all 4s. HA! Beautiful climb though, loved every huff'n puff step whilst getting snow on. :)
Posted May 19, 2011 5:57 pm
Alex WoodRe: Angle

Alex Wood

Hasn't voted

okay sweet, I will update it to that. Glad you liked the route!
Posted May 23, 2011 3:24 am
ElanskiRe: Angle


Hasn't voted

Hi there, you never updated the steepest pitch on Dollar couloir. I climbed it 4/14/13 for the second time, and at the top of Charlton some one asked me about the steepness and that on SP it says 50 degrees max. For the second time I measured with a clinometer and it is at the very most 40-41 degrees at the steepest parts, which are very short. The majority is around 35-36. Last year Deb and I climbed it on rather firm snow w/o crampons or ax in AT boots and approach shoes. Yeah a bit sketchy but doable if you're careful and conditions are not bullet proof.
Posted Apr 15, 2013 5:22 pm
Alex WoodRe: Angle

Alex Wood

Hasn't voted


Thanks for the comment! I updated the pitch. Turns out there were two place where I had said the couloir was 50 degrees and I had only changed one. Thanks for the feedback!
Posted Nov 13, 2013 5:17 pm
tony birdsilly snowclimbers

tony bird

Hasn't voted

silly snowclimbers, couloirs are for skiing.

i think this is a, if not THE, perfect couloir. if it were next to a road, every skier in southern california would be on it. i skied it 4-11 and 4-21, the latter under perfect spring corn conditions, and i looked like a real skier for once in my life. i was even able to link some turns in the 25-foot narrows.

try to hit it early afternoon. booting up was a breeze on 4-21. on 4-11, i started breaking through, so i had to use skins from the midway point.

it's an exhausting day doing this, but thoroughly rewarding. i noticed a north-trending couloir on charlton which also has good potential. anybody done that one? i think charlton got more snow this year than any mountain south of shasta, and dollar couloir ought to be skiable for at least a couple more weeks to come.

there's probably about a mile of skiing from the summit, which i did with alfred on 4-21. (only did the main part of the couloir, solo, on 4-11.) there are distinct divisions--a small "micro" bowl at the top; the upper couloir, about 40 degrees; a central part of lower angle; a third section, narrower and steeper; and then the avvy runout, which goes at about 25 degrees and had wonderfully soft crud. if you cut north as soon as possible, you find some further, pleasant runs all the way to dollar lake, which is nearly dry, but had a couple of hopeful mallards in one of its puddles.
Posted Apr 22, 2013 4:53 pm
Alex WoodRe: silly snowclimbers

Alex Wood

Hasn't voted

Hey thanks for the comment Tony! I have yet to ski, but maybe I can this winter! I was not a skier back then... Happy travels!
Posted Nov 13, 2013 5:18 pm

Viewing: 1-8 of 8    


Dollar CouloirCharlton PeakClimbing up the CouloirViews Along the WayJepson PeakTaking a  BreatherLooking Down
Avalanche ChuteDollar CouloirAlmost at the topLooking Up