The East Couloir on Mt. Eolus is a fine snow climb and ski route. Though short, the couloir is tight, steep, and offers an excellent way to summit Eolus during the spring snow season. This route acts as an alternative to the Northeast Ridge/East Face summer route, but is not recommended in summer or fall due to rockfall potential, nor in winter due to avalanche danger. This route is also probably the standard way to ski Mt. Eolus from the summit. The "half a day" time requirement for this route assumes a start from camp in Chicago Basin.
Climbing the East Couloir on Mt. Eolus.
The Durango/Silverton NGRR.
Start from camp in Chicago Basin, which is typically reached from either the Purgatory Trailhead or via the Durango/Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to Needleton. From camp, head up along the north side of the Needle Creek drainage and around a headwall. From above the headwall climb northwest for 1,800' into the large basin below the East Face of Mt. Eolus. At 13,500' the East Couloir will come into view climber's left.
The couloir averages a steepness of 40 degrees with a maximum angle of 47 degrees near the top. The final 30 feet of the couloir narrow into a section less than 10 feet wide. Once atop the couloir, head northeast (climber's right) up a ramp for 150' vertical to the summit of Mt. Eolus. In spring this ramp will be a mixed climb. Descend either via the standard summer route, or for a thrilling ski descent, ski back down the ramp and drop into the couloir.
Ice axe, crampons, helmet, skis.
Skier's view down the East Couloir before dropping in.
Climb and ski this route before 9am consistent with spring travel best practice principles. This couloir gets an early sun hit and climbing and skiing early in the morning is a good idea.
Skiing out the bottom of the East Couloir on Mt. Eolus.
"In times like these, it is helpful to remember that there have always been times like these."