This is a very direct ascent to the summit of Lackawanna Peak. A safe ascent requires an ice axe, crampons, and stable conditions. The steepness of the route is around 30 degrees near the headwall.
In spring, and when the road to the North Lake Creek trailhead is closed, this is the quickest route to the summit of Lackawanna Peak. If conditions are stable, it’s also faster than the South Slopes Route.
If avalanche conditions are anything less than stable, then use the South Slopes Route
Climbing the Lackawanna Couloir.
Between Leadville and Buena Vista, drive Highway 24 to the Twin Lakes turnoff. From the turnoff, drive Highway 82 towards Independence Pass.
Drive Highway 82 for about 15.7 miles to a pulloff on the south side of the highway. The actual beginning of the route is actually 0.1 miles up the road, but there isn't any parking around the beginning of the route.
The trailhead is about 0.8 to 0.9 miles past the standard La Plata Peak Trailhead. If you drive past the sign saying "end of avalanche area," then you have passed the trailhead.
From the carpark, walk east up the highway until you can see the big couloir coming off the south side of the mountain. Cross the aspen covered slope to the couloir.
Once in the couloir, simply climb it. Near the headwall, the couloir becomes shallow and splits. Either shallow branch works fine for an ascent. The route steepens at the headwall and an ice axe is required for a safe ascent.
Once on the ridge, follow it northeast and then north to the summit.
This is a very straightforward and direct ascent, but an ice axe and crampons are needed for a safe ascent. Snowshoes will probably needed early season as well.
Mid-March through mid-May should be prime season to climb the couloir. Avalanche conditions should be evaluated before making this climb. Use caution after any snowstorm, especially early season. The couloir should not be climbed within at least a few days of any snowstorm. Get an early pre-dawn start and stay out of the couloir in the afternoons.
The one way distance on this route is 2.5 miles with 3550 feet elevation gain.
Approaching the headwall of the Lackawanna Couloir. The route is gentle in this section and will get steeper near the headwall.
Ice axe and crampons. Avalanche gear and snowshoes may be required at times as well. Do not use this route if avalanche conditions are not very stable.