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Shooting Star Couloir
Route

Shooting Star Couloir

 
Shooting Star Couloir

Page Type: Route

Location: Colorado, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 39.85220°N / 105.68940°E

Object Title: Shooting Star Couloir

Route Type: Mountaineering

Season: Spring

Time Required: Half a day

Difficulty: II Steep Snow/Ice

Route Quality: 
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Page By: Ted Eliason

Created/Edited: May 11, 2011 / May 12, 2011

Object ID: 715162

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Page Score: 76.47%  - 7 Votes 

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Overview

 
Some of the extreme slide potential
 
 
The view of Shooting Star from  Camp Cheeto
 

Per Gerry Roach's Colorado's Indian Peaks, Classic Hikes and Climbs, "This is the premier mountaineering route on James Peak. It ascends the narrow couloir near the middle of the east face, which tops out practically on the summit."

By reputation, the couloir is named "Shooting Star" due to the abundance of ice and rock debris that shoot down the couloir once temperatures are warm enough. Needless to say, helmets are 'de rigueur' on this route. Although steep, Shooting star is occasionally skied and qualifies as an "extreme" route due to the possibility that a fall could send a skiier (or climber) off a snow ramp and over several cliff bands of rock!!!

Getting There

 
Roped up after previous day sloughing
 

 
Approaching  the cliff band that splits Shooting and Superstar
 

Approach via St. Mary's glacier, across Jamaica Flats. Ascend the Southeast Ridge towards James peak. Drop into the James Peak cirque after traveling approximately one third of the distance between Jamaica flats and the James Peak summit. The route into the cirque descends a steep snow slope followed by another steep snow ramp into the basin.

Once at the base of the East Face, Shooting Star and Superstar couloirs split in a direct 'Y' snow formation. Shooting star is the couloir to the left of this formation.

The continuity of the route to the summit is not always obvious. The route sits is a gully between cliff faces and is periodically obscured by the lower cliff band from below. The continuity of the route becomes obvious one you ascend past this lower cliff band.

Note: Too far up the Southeast Ridge will often block a drop into the basin due to steep ridgeline cornices. Attempts to reach the couloir directly from the East edge of the James Peak Basin will result in either a very long slog across the length of the basin to reach the East Face, or a frequently cliffed-out traverse along the south side of the basin.

Route Description

 
Steeper that it looks from the basin
 
 
Its about this steep
 

Ascend steep snow to the base of the 'Y' formation where Shooting Star and Superstar couloirs meet. Take the obvious left couloir up steep snow to the summit.

This route travels below cliff bands and cornices. It should be climbed only in stable conditions. The gully is such that any loose ice, rocks or snow sloughs from above the route WILL ricochet down the couloir.

Descend from the summit via the Southeast ridge to avoid an "extreme" exit.

Essential Gear

 
Topping out
 
 
Half way up
 

HELMET. Crampons, ice axe, pickets, harnesses, and a rope will provide additional protection from a fall or slide for most of the route. The upper third of the route offer opportunities for occasional placemenet of small rock nuts, hexes, tricams or friends. Rock walls at the entry to the couloir are either very exposed to rockfall from above cliff bands, or fiendishly free of stable cracks to protect from.

Images