Hopeful Couloir

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 39.02110°N / 106.4192°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering, Skiing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: Advanced Snow Climb; Extreme Ski Descent, D13
Additional Information Grade: III
Sign the Climber's Log


Hopeful Couloir is Mount Hope's superior mountaineering route. Hopeful is located on Hope's rugged northeast face. Hopeful Couloir is in condition for climbing spring to early summer. Conditions can be checked from US 24 south of Leadville or from CO 82 near Twin Lakes.
Mt. Hope from highway 82 near...Hopeful Couloir Ascends Looker's Left to the Summit Ridge. Photo: Alan Ellis
If planning on skiing, go earlier in the spring, especially if a summit ski descent is desired. The ski descent is rated as a D13 on the D Scale, but easier options abound.
Climbing Hopeful CouloirClimbing Hopeful Couloir

Getting There

If only climbing Mount Hope the easiest trailhead to start from is the Sheep Gulch Trailhead. Directions to the Sheep Gulch Trailhead can be found on Mount Hope's main page. Follow the East Ridge Route to Hope Pass. Descend 0.2 miles north on the Hope Pass Trail to 12,200' on Hope Pass' north side.

If climbing Mount Hope in conjunction with Quail Mountain and skiing the north gully, the easiest trailhead to start from is the Willis Gulch Trailhead.

Willis Gulch TH:
Drive 8.4 miles west on CO 82 from US 24 or 15.3 east from Independence Pass. Turn south onto a signed, dirt road. Drive 120 yards southwest. Park here. Follow a bridge across Lake Creek. Continue 100 yards south to a sign indicating no motorized travel allowed beyond this point. This is the start of the Willis Gulch Trail. Follow the Willis Gulch Trail 2.5 miles to a junction at 10,300'. Follow the Little Willis Gulch Trail into Little Willis Gulch and to a lake at 11,780'. Hopeful Couloir will be directly in front of you.
Hopeful CouloirHopeful Couloir from Willis Gulch Trailhead

Route Description

Climb the couloir avoiding the cornice by staying to the left (red). The slope angle approaches 50 degrees.

To avoid the steepest snow and reduce cornice exposure, exit the couloir to the left just below the summit cornice at 13,700' (blue). The slope angle never exceeds 45 degrees.

Alternatively, exit the couloir to the left at 13,500' (green).

To avoid cornice exposure altogether, exit the couloir to the left at 12,800' and climb another, smaller couloir to the east ridge (yellow).
Hopeful CouloirHopeful Couloir

Essential Gear

Crampons. Ice axe if uncomfortable on steep, frozen snow.


fritzsperry for informing me of this route.
Colorado's Thirteeners From Hikes to Climbs



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