|Page Type:||Trip Report|
|Lat/Lon:||38.30869°N / 105.86876°W|
|Date Climbed/Hiked:||May 4, 2019|
Ascent of the Danish Direct couloir (Galena peak) on Saturday 2019/5/04.
This prominent chute is not often climbed, but features a fantastic view of the Sangre de Cristo range and San Luis valley from one of the northernmost clusters of mountains. To access the chute, follow the abandoned forest road from the Hayden Creek campground, starting near N38.32902 W105.82547 at 7732’. The road will probably not be on your map, but should remain mostly intact for decades until it becomes more blocked by fallen trees and forest regrowth. Some key waypoints from the road are on the map. Deviate from the road as you approach the base of the couloir at N38.31484 W105.85250 at 9277’. You may notice a second, smaller chute before reaching the Danish couloir. The smaller couloir runs parallel to the Danish couloir and is a good descent route, following down from the cirque to the south of Galena peak. I cached my snowshoes at N38.31356 W105.84983 at 9152’. Once in the Danish couloir, follow the obvious chute that may be continuously filled with snow to the summit. The lowest angle path does deviate to the climbers right above N38.31024 W105.86556 at 11576’, hooking back to the left before the summit. Depending on the snow pack, you may encounter a double rock band about 1000 feet below the summit. The couloir channel ends maybe 200 feet below the summit, with the final section featuring an exposed direct ascent of the summit itself (which may be all snow). A lower angle descent may be found south, along the ridgeline at N38.30437 W105.86393 at 11938’. I found the snow more stable here, and low enough angle (less than 40 degrees) for a glissade into the cirque below. That was followed by some additional glissades along the second, smaller couloir.
I car-camped at the Hayden Creek campground in one of the sites near the abandoned road on Friday night. Arriving after dark, I did not see the road, but discovered it while returning from the couloir. In the morning I instead crossed the footbridge at N38.33000 W105.82339 at 7818’. The Rainbow trail does not approach the couloir, so I bushwacked north and often above the creek to eventually find myself off route above a smaller creek from a different drainage. It’s much better (faster) to follow the abandoned road. Instead, I cut across a low route at N38.32446 W105.84354 at 8650’ to reach the plateau below the couloir. It froze overnight even at the campground, so I found solid but shallow snow below the couloir. The couloir itself was covered with the remains of numerous wet slides from the previous warm day. The snow did warm as I ascended; the surface was several inches of incoherent snow remaining from mid-week. The snow was instead frozen the last few hundred feet below the summit. Here, the wind showered me with unmelted powder. It was windy and below freezing at the summit. I saw a small wet slide below me on the couloir, so I descended a different route at at N38.30437 W105.86393 at 11938’ where there was no evidence of sliding snow. I found the abandoned road while returning to the campground. It follows north of the creek, before crossing over to the south of the creek near the campground.
I found the angles of 24.7, 28.9, 38.1, and 41.7 degrees from horizontal, ascending the couloir. I found the angle of 35.8, descending from the top of the ridgeline.
Times: I woke at 3:45 am to start from camp at 5; I reached the base of the couloir at 7:45; I reached the fork at 11:20; I reached the summit at 1:15 pm to start to descend at 2:15; I reached the low angle descent at 2:45; I reached the cache at 4; and I reached the Hayden Creek campground at 5:04.