The Widowmaker Couloir on Windom is a steep, somewhat aesthetic artery running from the summit roughly 1,000' down the Northwest Face. In spring this couloir fills in nicely and makes for a great snow climb and/or ski descent. This is most likely the best way to ski Windom Peak from the summit. This route is not recommended in summer or fall due to rockfall, nor is it recommended in winter due to avalanche danger. Note: The "time required" field above assumes a start from camp in Chicago Basin.
The Widowmaker Couloir on Windom's Northwest Face
Approach from Chicago Basin, which can be reached either from the Purgatory Trailhead or via the Durango/Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to Needleton. From camp in Chicago Basin, hike or skin above the Twin Lakes area and head east past the base of Windom's West Ridge. At around 12,800' the couloir pops into view as you head around the base of the Northwest Face. The correct location of the couloir is obvious from the bottom of the face.
The couloir and brief apron climbs roughly 1,000 vertical feet to the summit. Halfway to the summit the couloir narrows into a steep choke, the crux of the route. The average angle of the couloir is 40 degrees, with the crux choke being around 50 degrees for a short section depending on conditions. Near the summit the couloir fans out and eventually tops out on Windom's summit ridge, less than 100 yards and 25 vertical feet from the true summit. Descend from the summit down the West Ridge, or for a spectacular ski descent follow your ascent route back down, taking care in the choke section as it tends to ice over.
Climbing the Widowmaker Couloir
Ice axe, crampons, helmet, skis.
Climb and ski this route before 10am consistent with spring travel best practice principles. In the reality the Northwest Face gets a late sun hit but climbing and skiing early is a good idea. During periods of high wind, the top of the Widowmaker wind loads and wind slabs can be expected to periodically run the length of the couloir.
Skiing above the crux section