OverviewThe North Couloir on Potosi is a fun route for both climbers and skiers. Located just East of the Teakettle-Coffee Pot-Potosi saddle, there are 2 ways to approach this aesthetic line, easily and prominently seen from Teakettle or Mt.Ridgway.
Getting ThereBoth routes are accessed from Camp Bird Rd/Yankee Boy Basin. The standard route for the N.Couloir starts around a half mile passed the Governor/Yankee Boy Basin turnoff. Depending on the season, you can park right near the split and hike from there. Driving all the way to the outhouses doesn't make a whole lot of sense, since the route begins well before this trailhead.
The other access point is from the Weehawken TH, which is prmitively marked along the Camp Bird Rd, a couple hundred yards passed a bridge and small parking area, around 2.5 miles from the 550/Camp Bird turnoff. This route requires more elevation gain, more mileage and a sense of adventure.
Here is a nice write up from Dave Cooper in the "trailmix" section of the Denver Post :
When you gain the col, either don skis or get ready to glissade. When skiing, be sure to remain high to avoid losing too much elevation. We traversed high and around a rock face and were directly in the middle of North Couloir with around 800-900 feet of climbing.
The climbing doesn't get much steeper than 45 degrees and this occurs mainly near the upper 2/3 of the chute. The col is pretty small, big enough for maybe 4 or 5 people, depending on the amount of snow coverage. From here, you have phenomenal views of the San Juans to the South. The summit is a quick 5 minute climb to the flat plateau'd peak.
Downclimbing this route either involves the standard summer route or skiing the N.Couloir. We skied this in mid-May on a low snow year (2010) and were able to ski from the very rounded summit, back into the small col and then 1000 feet of skiing into the basin below.
Upon finishing the ski into Weehawken Basin, you can either brave the deproach down Weehawken, 6000 vertical feet down OR regain the Teakettle-Potosi saddle, which, depending on how far down you decide to ski, is a 300-500 feet vertical climb. We completed this in around 30 minutes and enjoyed another 1800 feet of skiing back down to the road, where we switched back into hiking boot mode and made the 10 minute trek back to the car for some IPA's, tortolini and salt n' vinegar chips. Underrated route on an underrated mountain, this should be a high priority, even for the San Juans.
Essential GearFor skiers - all standard AT/Tele gear, avy gear. Ice Axe would be a good idea, crampons optional (depends on comfort level on 40+ degree terrain, we never felt the need to use them).
For climbers - Ice Axe, crampons, snowshoes optional depending on the route you choose to descend and the softening SW face in the afternoon.