South Face Couloir

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.96470°N / 105.5761°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Spring
Additional Information Time Required: One to two days
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: Class 3
Additional Information Difficulty: Moderate Snow
Additional Information Grade: III
Sign the Climber's Log


This is a seasonal snow climb probably best climbed between March and May. Depending on snowpack, it may very well be possible mid-winter as well. Be very aware of avalanche conditions and rockfall potential. As usual, an early alpine start is highly recommended to minimize these dangers despite the short distance of the route. This essentially requires an overnight stay before the summit day due to heavy snows on the road.

South Colony Lakes Approach

During peak climbing conditions, the road is typically heavily loaded with snow near and above the 2-wheel-drive parking area. It is recommended to park here or lower. Access up the road can be gained via ski, snowshoe, or sled. None of which are ideal. Helicopter would be best, ha. It is about 5-6 miles to the Lower South Colony Lake area which makes for nice camping.

Route Description

Access the south side of Lower Colony Lake and look up hill. There you will see Broken Hand Pass. Head uphill and choose one of a couple gullies to gain the saddle.
Broken Hand PassBroken Hand Pass Ascent

Once gaining B.H. Pass, try to follow the visible cairns that lead along the south side of the SE ridge.
Continue following this general ridge trending uphill and passing any large blocks on the south (climber's left).
Approaching the couloir.Approaching the couloir.

Once nearing the main couloir look for the famous class 3 rock scramble that is used to enter the couloir. There will be a cairn near its top. If you miss this section or choose to pass below it the couloir can be entered lower down. In this lower variation we found some nice water-ice in the couloir that can be climbed or bypassed on a quick scramble.
The famous class 3 section.Class 3 section

Follow the couloir and don't forget to turn around and take in the view every now and then. The lower couloir is wide:
Lower couloirLower couloir

Mid-couloir is tighter and steeper:
Middle couloirMid couloir

Upper couloir gets wider:
Look down the upper couloirUpper couloir

There are definitely some variations possible at the top, once you get here check your gut instinct and choose your own adventure.

Essential Gear

What to wear... be ready for worse weather though.
Summit attire. Crestone Peak in back.Summit attire

Bring an ice axe, and crampons are nice if you run into firm snow. Don't forget the anti-ice plates for the crampons...
Got anti-ice plates? Nope.Balling up those crampons.


If you are thinking of this route, you should just go ahead and plan on a 5-day weekend and take in some of the superb surroundings and routes. Be sure to watch the weather shtuff happens:
Poor Truck! Hi Jim!Shtuff.

And if you spend multiple warm days up there, expect the road to melt off a bit...
South Colony Lakes RoadShtuff.



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