North Couloir

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 39.33841°N / 106.13943°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 3
Additional Information Grade: II
Sign the Climber's Log


This is a Class 3 snow climb on Mt. Democrat’s seldom climbed north face. This route holds its snow into August, making it a good late season snow climb.

Getting There

This route starts from the Montgomery Reservoir Trailhead.

This trailhead is located on the reservoir's west side at 10,920 feet. From the Hoosier Pass Summit, go south for 1.1 miles. You will see a sign for Park County Road 4. Turn right onto this dirt road. Follow the dirt road west until you see the reservoir. Upon reaching the reservoir, you will come upon a fork in the road, take the right branch. This section of road travels around the lake and you should follow it until the road turns 4WD. There will be a small parking lot on your left, park here.

Route Description

Mineold mine
From the parking lot on the west side of Montgomery Reservoir, follow the 4WD road west. You well see an old mine building with an overhead catwalk (see image). Pass under this building and continue up the 4WD road for 2.4 miles. You well see the north side of Mount Lincoln to your left; however don’t expect to see Mount Democrat for about the first 2 miles. As you follow the road, the Middle Fork of the South Platte River will run parallel on your left side. After 2.4 miles, at 11,680 feet, you will have to cross a stream descending from Wheeler Lake and flowing on the road for about 100 yards. After crossing you will notice another fainter 4WD road on your left side. Follow this road a ways, and then when it begins to climb higher, leave the road to the west (left) to stay in the valley floor.
Continue south up the valley. Make your way to the north couloir; it is the westernmost couloir on Democrat’s north face. The north couloir is directly below the lower section of the north ridge route. Enter the couloir at approximately 13,000 feet and climb another 700 feet at an angle of 40-45 degrees. This part is exhilarating but not as daunting as it looked from the 4WD road. I recommend crampons and an axe, as this couloir can retain its snow into August. The upper portion is cast in a shadow most of the day and can remain rock hard (see picture on right).
Once at the top of the couloir continue up the north ridge. Connect with the class 3 hikers trail which will lead you to the summit.
North Couloir

Essential Gear

Crampons & axe when snow is present. The upper portion is cast in a shadow much of the day and can remain rock hard.

Helmet when rock fall is present.
North CouloirRock fall debris
North CouloirHard upper portion



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