North Face Couloirs

Page Type
California, United States, North America
Route Type:
Spring, Winter
Time Required:
Most of a day
Rock Difficulty:
Class 3

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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North Face Couloirs
Created On: Apr 23, 2010
Last Edited On: Apr 23, 2010


The North Face of Rosy Finch Peak has at least two great ski descent routes and several options for exciting mixed snow and rock climbing. The ski routes are shown below and include the lower climber's right chute (in blue) and the central north couloir (in yellow).
Annotated North Face Descents

The blue chute (The Birdnest) offers approximately 700 vertical feet from the ridge to the exit at a 40 degree pitch while the central chute in yellow (The Birdcage) gives 1200 vertical feet of descent at a 45 degree pitch above a terminal cliffband and requires several hundred feet of class 3 traversing to "Escape the Birdcage" and return to "The Nest" which can be skied in extremely high snow years. After exiting the chutes, another 600 vertical feet of perfect corn can be harvested to the lake below.

Getting There

Highway 395 to Tom's Place and Rock Creek Road. Head up Little Lakes Valley towards Morgan Pass, cross the pass, and look right! The north face is looking right at ya! One could hardly ask for a more casual and stunningly beautiful ski tour, righteous in its own right whether or not you do the descents!

Route Description

Upon reaching Morgan Pass, you will be able to clearly see the descents. Choose your descent based upon skills, snow conditions, time of day, mental state, and overall experience desired. Both descents share the same lower chute, so head up the main couloir of The Birdnest. To ski this line, continue to the top, sit back and wait for the corn bomb, and enjoy.
Kilo skis the Nest

To "Escape the Birdcage", find the steep wall of snow about 100 feet up The Birdnest couloir, and climb it to reach the rocky traverse.
The Birdcage Couloir Traverse

Traverse WNW until you reach the long couloir of The Birdcage, and climb this to the top.
The Birdcage Couloir

Make sure your head is in the game before you drop in, for this is a committing line with serious consequences should a fall or avalanche take place.
Escape From The Birdcage!

In HUGE snow years it is possible to ski the traverse with some minor rock stepping as well as negotiate your way to the terminal cliff and billygoat down to ski an icy straightline off a 20-30 (at least) foot air to the apron below. There are many ways to escape the birdcage!

Essential Gear

Backcountry ski gear plus an ice tool or whippet in case of firm conditions during the ascent or descent. The long mellow cruise in and out Little Lakes Valley warrants a sun hat for ultimate spring touring comfort.
This route should not be skied when significant avalanche hazard exists, and care should be taken in hard snow conditions when riding "The Birdcage" due to the terminal 50-100 foot cliff in which an un-arrested slide would result in big air.

North Face Couloirs

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