North Face Couloirs

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.94720°N / 106.3778°W
Additional Information Route Type: Snow Climb
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Grade II, Class 3/Moderate Snow
Sign the Climber's Log


Trailhead: Missouri Gulch Trailhead. To reach this TH, take US 24 south about 19-20 miles out of Leadville, or north out of Buena Vista about 15 miles to Chaffee county road 390. This road is gravel, but easily passable in passenger cars. Go west for about 7.5 miles to the Missouri Gulch Trailhead, which will be on the left. There is ample parking and restrooms at the trailhead. The trailhead lies at 9,640ft.

Route Description

Follow the standard Northwest Ridge route up Missouri Mountain to approx 12,700'. The standard North Face couloirs are the 4 snow couloirs that ascend almost directly to the summit. The summit is almost directly south of you at this point. It is the high point along the East Ridge route (Class 4)The western-most couloir is the C Couloir, and is the easiest. They difficulty increases as you move east. The climbs are approximately 1000-1200 vertical feet long.

A mistake we made was thinking the summit was the western-most high point, just east of the saddle between Missouri and Point 13,764. It is not the summit, although looked a bit higher from the vantage point in the basin below Missouri. As such, we climbed the steeper of the 4 couloirs reaching to *that* summit, which was actually Point 13,930 on the USGS topo maps, then had to backtrack along the NW ridge to the actual summit. The actual North Face couloirs are almost due south of where the trail to Missouri's Northwest ridge route breaks off from the trail leading over Elkhead Pass.

The routes are straight-forward snow climbs of moderate steepness (approx 45-50 degrees at the steepest points).

Descend the same routes or the Northwest Ridge (standard) route.

Total distance: 9.0 miles, Elevation gain: 4,450 feet.

Essential Gear

Bring typical Fourteener gear plus ice axe, stiff mountaineering boots, and possibly crampons, depending on time of day and time of year. Late in the year the route may become icy, or it may just melt out... I'm not sure. Judging by the snow conditions in the couloir we climbed I'd guess they just melt out as the season progresses.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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DudeThatMustHurt - Aug 19, 2006 5:22 pm - Hasn't voted

C Coulior

The C Coulior is also a great way in summer months to retreat from storms down the North Face of the mountain (as I found out on 8-15-06, took less than 15 minutes to get from the summit to the valley floor. I recomend a helmet but did not have one that day, was easy to decend the coulior and made for a safe exit route being that we made such a late summit push

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