Dragon's Tooth Couloir

Page Type
Colorado, United States, North America
Route Type:
Steep snow, possible rock step
Time Required:
Half a day
AI 2-3, maybe a move or two of 5.0

Route Quality: 4 Votes

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Dragon's Tooth Couloir
Created On: Jan 3, 2004
Last Edited On: Jan 3, 2004


Follow Nelson's "getting there" on the main page to Emerald Lake. As you approach Emerald you will be able to clearly see the Dragons Tail Couloir which is the first of the two large couloirs splitting the south face of Flattop. High above you will notice two sharp tooth-like formations of which the left is called the Dragons Tooth. The Dragons Tooth Couloir is just east of this formation. As you pass Emerald Lake the second couloir, The Dragons Tooth Couloir begans to open up and reveal itself. It offers about 1500 feet of straighforward climbing and is most often climbed in late spring or early summer when the snow has had time to consolidate.

Route Description

Begin the route by working up the lower snow slopes which comprise almost 500 feet of ever steepening snow. As the snow gets steeper the couloir gets narrower. At around 2/3 of the way up the couloir you will encounter the first and only real technical challenge of the route. There is a steep step that in early season sports about 7 feet of near vertical snow or possibly ice. By late season it is most often exposed rock. When I did this route last March I found the step even more difficult as there was a dead elk frozen into the step causing me to climb the rock on the side of the couloir which was mid 5th class.

Be sure to look back over your shoulder every once in a while to take in the massive North Face of Hallett Peak. It seemed like the views kept getting better and better.

From the rock step the couloir continues up steep snow until it begins to open up near the top and eventually tops out on the Flattop Plateau. From here the summit is a short hike to the west over tundra or to descend you can continue east and intersect the Flattop Trail and return to Bear Lake.

Beware of avalanches and falling debris from other climbers, animals and spring thawing.

Essential Gear

The only required gear is crampons, ice axe, and a helmet. Some may wish to carry a short rope and light rack of rock and ice gear. DO NOT forget your camera.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.