East Couloir

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.62280°N / 107.6208°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering, Mixed, Skiing
Seasons Season: Spring
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Steep Snow
Sign the Climber's Log


The East Couloir on Mt. Eolus is a fine snow climb and ski route. Though short, the couloir is tight, steep, and offers an excellent way to summit Eolus during the spring snow season. This route acts as an alternative to the Northeast Ridge/East Face summer route, but is not recommended in summer or fall due to rockfall potential, nor in winter due to avalanche danger. This route is also probably the standard way to ski Mt. Eolus from the summit. The "half a day" time requirement for this route assumes a start from camp in Chicago Basin.

Climbing the East CouloirClimbing the East Couloir on Mt. Eolus.

Getting There

The Durango/Silverton Narrow Gauge RailroadThe Durango/Silverton NGRR.

Start from camp in Chicago Basin, which is typically reached from either the Purgatory Trailhead or via the Durango/Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to Needleton. From camp, head up along the north side of the Needle Creek drainage and around a headwall. From above the headwall climb northwest for 1,800' into the large basin below the East Face of Mt. Eolus. At 13,500' the East Couloir will come into view climber's left.

Route Description

The couloir averages a steepness of 40 degrees with a maximum angle of 47 degrees near the top. The final 30 feet of the couloir narrow into a section less than 10 feet wide. Once atop the couloir, head northeast (climber's right) up a ramp for 150' vertical to the summit of Mt. Eolus. In spring this ramp will be a mixed climb. Descend either via the standard summer route, or for a thrilling ski descent, ski back down the ramp and drop into the couloir.

Essential Gear

Ice axe, crampons, helmet, skis.

Looking down the East CouloirSkier's view down the East Couloir before dropping in.

Additional Notes

Climb and ski this route before 9am consistent with spring travel best practice principles. This couloir gets an early sun hit and climbing and skiing early in the morning is a good idea.

Skiing the East Couloir on Mt. EolusSkiing out the bottom of the East Couloir on Mt. Eolus.



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