Starbright Couloir

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 39.85220°N / 105.68940°E
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Steep Snow
Additional Information Grade: II
Sign the Climber's Log


Kicking up Starbright

Starbright Couloir is a moderate, Class II snow climb that takes an end-around of the east face to exit below James Peak's summit (to the right of the Superstar Couloir exit). It is a reasonably safe alternate route to either Superstar, Shooting Star or Sky Pilot in the event of heavy sloughing or loose snow conditions.

James Peak is one of the more accesible Indian Peak Wilderness summits from Denver in all seasons due to plowed road access to the town of Alice and Saint Mary's Glacier. The access approach is often wind blasted up the "glacier" and across Jamaica flats, but the East Face itself is often well sheltered from wind.

Starbright comes into season as a snow climb as early as November and is often melted out in its upper and lower section by late spring, revealing a talus and scree start and a class 3 rock scramble finish.


Start of Starbright

Approaching Starbright from James Peak basin

The most direct approach is through Alice and St. Mary's glacier, across Jamaca Flats and approximately a third of the way up the Southeast Ridge to James Peak's summit. From the Southeast Ridge it is possible to drop some 500 ft or so on moderately steep snow to the base of James Peak's East Face.

Once at the base of the East Face, Starbright Couloir is an easy traverse around the right of the East Face, but to the left of the Northeast Slopes routes. The route becomes obvious once you have reached the base of the couloir.

Note: Too far up the Southeast Ridge will often block a drop into the basin due to steep ridgeline cornices. Attempts to reach the couloir directly from the East edge of the James Peak Basin will result in either a very long slog across the length of the basin to reach the East Face, or a frequently cliffed-out traverse along the south side of the basin.

Route Description

Edge of the East Face from Starbright
East Face from the top of Starbright

A straightforward snow climb to an exit on a rocky ridgeline. Some limited exposure to cliffs and cornices. Steepens near the exit and may be moderately corniced at the top. Avoid in loose snow or wet slab avalance conditions (in favor of the Northeast Slopes).

Essential Gear

One to two pickets and a rope may be desired near the top of the couloir. Ice axe, crampons and gaiters are essential, as well as seasonally appropriate snow climbing equipment.

External Links

Featured in Gerry Roach's Colorado's Indian Peaks, 2nd Edition: Classic Hikes and Climbs



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