East Face

Page Type: Route
Lat/Lon: 39.03400°N / 106.858°W
Route Type: Mountaineering, Scrambling, Skiing
Season: Spring
Time Required: Most of a day
Difficulty: Advanced Snow Climb, Extreme Ski Descent, D14
Rock Difficulty: Class 3
Grade: III


Cathedral Peak's East Face is one of the Elks best snow climbs and ski descents. The route climbs from Cathedral Lake up the East Face up a narrow couloir. The East Face joins the South Ridge just below the summit. The whole route is skiable from the summit if attempted early enough. The ski descent is rated as a D14 on the D Scale. Alternatively, the South Ridge can be used a descent.

Cathedral Peak's East Face. Photo: Lou Dawson

Getting There

Drive west on Highway 182 out of Aspen. After less than one mile at a stoplight, take a hard left onto Castle Creek Road. Drive 11 miles to Ashcroft. Continue driving 1 mile to Cathedral Lake Trailhead on the right. Road closure is at Ashcroft in winter. Hike up the Cathedral Lakes Trail to the base of Cathedral Peak's east face.

Cathedral Peak's East Face Route

Route Description

Climb the couloir staying to the left if in doubt. The maximum slope angle approaches 50 degrees. Gain the South Ridge just below the summit and follow it to the summit beying careful of the loose rock. Cathedral Peak's East Face was first skied by Lou Dawson and Bob Perlumutter on May 16, 2005. Click and scroll down.

Elevation Gain: 4,200'
Roundtrip Distance: 9 miles

Essential Gear

Ice ace and crampons.