Devil's Castle Couloir

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 40.56547°N / 111.61449°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Spring, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: 50° Snow
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: Class 4
Additional Information Grade: I
Sign the Climber's Log

Overview

Base of the CouloirLooking up the Couloir

Devil's Castle is typically climbed by scrambling east along the ridge from the saddle between Sugarloaf Peak and Devil's Castle. A somewhat more challenging route can be made by ascending the steep snow couloir on the north face of the peak. The couloir begins as a very broad slope which gradually narrows to a very small notch just prior to reaching the ridge just to the east of the east summit.

This route is best done as a Spring or early Summer snow climb, when the couloir will be snow-filled most, or all, of the way to the ridge line. Later in summer after the snow begins to melt, or is gone, the couloir will consist of steep loose rock, resulting in a very tedious and unpleasant scramble.

Getting There

The route is approached by way of Albion Basin at the upper east end of Alta Ski Resort.

Take the 6200 South exit (exit #6) off I-215 and follow highway 190 south-east approximately 2 miles to the intersection with Big Cottonwood Canyon road. Continue straight through the stoplight and follow the road another 4 miles to the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon, where an electronic billboard on the right provides current road and/or weather conditions.

Continue east up Little Cottonwood Canyon approximately 9 miles past the billboard to the eastern end of the Alta ski area, where the pavement ends at a gate and dirt road. The dirt road will be snow covered in Spring and early Summer.
Looking Down the CouloirLooking Down the Couloir

Route Description

Approaching the RidgeNearing the Ridge

From the gate at the east end of upper Albion Basin parking area, head south in the general direction of Devil's Castle, the prominent dark ridge line to the south. In Spring and early Summer this will probably involve simply following the snow covered ski service roads.
Top of the CouloirTop of the Couloir

Eventually leave the roadway and head straight for the base of the north face, aiming for the broad snow apron below and slightly to the left (east) of the summit. Begin ascending the snow apron which gradually steepens and narrows as it enters the couloir. Note that the top of the couloir bends leftward just before reaching the ridgeline, and therefore will not be visible.

The upper half of the couloir contains a series of small rock bands, which can be climbed over or around on snow, as conditions and preferences permit. Stay generally towards the left side of the couloir until the notch in the ridgeline above becomes visible. The steepness in the upper part of the couloir is roughly 50-55 degrees. A few more hundred feet of climbing up steep snow or occasional rock and the ridge is reached.

From the ridge at the top of the notch, the east summit is reached by a few hundred feet of class 3 scrambling. The ever-so-slightly higher west summit is reached by a short class 3 or 4 scramble from the east summit.

Descent

The quickest and easiest descent is made by scrambling west from the summit for ±0.25 mile down to the saddle between Devil's Castle and Sugarloaf Peak. From the saddle drop north back into Albion Basin to regain the original approach route.
East SummitEast Summit

Essential Gear

  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Helmet
  • Skis or snowshoes for the approach (or just boot it)


  • Parents 

    Parents

    Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.