North Face, Right Couloir, AI3+, III

Page Type
Wyoming, United States, North America
Route Type:
Ice Climbing
Summer, Fall
Time Required:
Most of a day
Number of Pitches:

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North Face, Right Couloir, AI3+, III
Created On: Jun 17, 2009
Last Edited On: Jun 17, 2009


There are a number of couloirs that split the north face of Jackson Peak, rising from the Bull Lake Glacier. The two main ones, Right and Left, offer alpine ice climbs of moderate difficulty and high quality. The center is more inaccessible, and possibly steeper. Little information is known on it.

Getting There

You need to find your way to the Bull Lake Glacier, in the wild high heart of the Wind River Mountains. The Bull Lake Glacier is at the southern end of the great ice-cap that spans the northernmost 20 miles of the Winds, starting just south of Jackson Peak at Indian Pass, and going north all the way to Ram Flat.

From the West/South: This is the easiest way to access the Bull Lake Glacier. And it's not that easy! See the main peak page for directions to the Pole Creek Trail/Elkhart Park Trailhead. Make your way to Indian Pass, up from Island Lake. This is approximately 15 miles from the trailhead. Nice camping is had at Island Lake. From Indian Pass, you must traverse the northwest end of the Knife Point Glacier, and then cross the Bull Lake Glacier. Rope teams and knowledge of glacier travel is recommended, as there are crevasses and moulins and people have fallen in them here. As of 2008, the Bull Lake Glacier is melting off at a rapid and horrifying pace. Much travel on it by late summer is through thigh-deep slush. Horrifying.

From the North/East: If you insist on approaching this climb from the eastern side of the Wind River Range, you must do so from Trail Lake, the typical approach to Gannet Peak. This will take many days (4+), involve extensive glacier travel over the Fremont, Sacagawea, and Helen Glaciers, as well as a high traverse of a sub-crest of the Wind Rivers. Elsie Col is impractical with a heavy pack on (it's likely a AI3 climb), and Backpacker's Pass is said to be hell, so Blaurock Pass is your best option.

Route Description

Following Pitch 3Following Pitch 3
From the Bull Lake Glacier, the couloirs rise straight up to the summit plateau of Jackson Peak. The Left Couloir appears to be AI3, of moderate difficulty, and perhaps 4-6 pitches.

The Right Couloir is what we climbed. It was AI3+ , and we roped for 7 pitches of it. The bergschrund was gaping open, and we were only able to cross at the far right side, though the snow bridge across it was stable enough. The path we took through the 'schrund can be seen in the primary route photo at the top of this page. This was in mid-August of 2008 (a fairly snowy year in the north Rockies). We roped after the bergschrund, and stuck to the far left side of the couloir. Better rockfall protection, and some belays were on rock ledges, which was nice. Ice conditions were variable- some rock hard, but much coming off in big old plates.

The top out is quite near to the summit of the peak- drop gear and saunter a few hundred meters up to your right to the top.

Descent routeOn the descent.

Descent: The descent is somewhat tricky- you don't want to have to go all the way to Indian Pass just to get back to your camp on the Bull Lake Glacier. Traverse along the southeast ridge for a ways, past the Left Couloir, to a broad snow chute that goes down to the glacier. There is some awful loose rubble to be descended before you reach the snow. Rappels may be necessary, depending on how far the snow has melted back from the rock. Then a steep traverse is required to reach more moderate angled snow. From there a long 500' glissade will take you down to the glacier.

Essential Gear

2 ropes, a full rack of screws, some nuts and a cam or two for rock belays. Leader had light alpine ice gear, but followers climbed on mountaineering crampons, single mountaineering axe (no ice tools), etc.

At a belayAt a belay.

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North Face, Right Couloir, AI3+, III

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