North Couloir

Page Type
Colorado, United States, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
A long day
Class 3

Route Quality: 3 Votes

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North Couloir
Created On: Aug 26, 2004
Last Edited On: Jun 13, 2006

Getting to Cottonwood Lake

Please refer to the Trailhead and Approach pages for directions to Cottonwood Lake.

If you use the South Colony Lakes approach, from the 4WD trailhead, hike 1.5 miles to the lower South Colony Lake. Begin a cairned traverse across Broken Hand Peak's talus-covered north slopes and into a bowl that points southwest toward Broken Hand Pass. Hike up to the 13,100' pass, following cairns as you go. You may encounter some light scrambling as you near the pass. Descend the excellent trail 800' into the small basin below Crestolita. The trail has been improved in recent years because of some hard work by volunteers at the Rocky Mountain Field Institute.

Route Description

From Cottonwood Creek TH
RT Distance: 10 miles
Elevation Gain: 4900'

From South Colony Lakes 4WD TH
RT Distance: 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 3200'

From South Colony Lakes 2WD TH
RT Distance: 15 miles
Elevation Gain: 5550'
CrestolitaCrestolita from the Broken Hand Pass trail

From Cottonwood Lake, hike the Broken Hand Pass Trail southeast, turning the corner around Crestolita's northwest face. As Crestolita's north face comes into view (see above), look closely for the couloir that splits the face, in between the peak's two summits. This is your route. Leave the comfort of the trail and climb 5-600' up the loose, rubble-filled couloir. If you're climbing with a partner, take great care not to send any projectiles their way! Near the top of the couloir, take a right-hand split that leads toward the summit. Beginning approximately 150' below the summit, you'll start climbing on solid terrain. Hike up grass and do some light scrambling on good rock to gain the summit. If you have some extra time, the quarter-mile summit ridge to Crestolita's eastern summit appears quite easy.

Essential Gear

Crampons and an ice axe would be a necessity during winter and spring conditions. Bring your helmet because of all the loose rock!

North Couloir

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