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Trip Details

Date Saturday  6/8/2019
End Date Sunday  6/9/2019
Group Denver
Event Title Pk. 12383 via Skyscraper couloir -> Mt. Democrat north couloirs
Start Time 10:00 AM
Status Complete
Leader David Miller
Member Price Free
Available Participants 3
Type Trip
Trip Type Hike
Pace Moderate
Classification Easy D
Trail Mileage 16
Elevation Gain 3450
Driving Distance 42


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Snow climb of Skyscraper couloir (above Bob lake, near Rollins pass) on the south end of Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. Rather than the approach described in Dave Cooper’s “Colorado Snow Climbs” book, we will start from Hessie trailhead, taking a 4 mile 2200’ off trail (but familiar) approach to overnight Saturday at the Boulder CMC Årestua hut for an alpine start on Sunday morning. This trip is a good snow refresher, with mileage and elevation gain for those conditioning for big trips in the summer. The snow climb itself is exploratory (I have not visited Skyscraper before; Cooper describes a ~1000’ gain, with the relatively low average incline of 30 degrees. The trip is intended for those with previous snow experience – CMC Basic Mountaineering School is a pre-requisite. The top of the couloir should offer great views of the final stretch of the former railroad / auto road before Rollins pass, including the remaining wooden trestles above the King lake valley. I hope to top out Peak 12383 before we walk down from the ridge to return to the hut, to gather overnight gear and return to Hessie. The maximum number of participants is limited to the seven overnight spaces at the hut. There is no fee to stay at Årestua, but a $5 donation is recommended.

ps If you are inquiring to join the trip, please describe: (a) when you took the BMS course, and (b) snow/ice climbing you have done recently.



CMC trip to climb the north couloir(s) on Mt. Democrat on Saturday morning, 2019/6/08.  I had originally planned to climb Skyscraper couloir at Rollins pass using Årestua  as a base of operations on Sunday morning, 2019/6/09. The weather forecast was unfavorable, however, so i changed the destination and date/time. Emily, Michael, and Adam remained from the original roster.

The snow was typically frozen lower on the approach, but was relatively soft during the climb. The snow quality in CO in spring does depend so much on the possibility for clear sky-radiative cooling of the snow overnight, with a good time duration to freeze deep in the snow. That was clearly limited the previous night, including a wet band of air that passed through before sunrise. The group managed to kick steps, all with some sinking and sometimes knee deep. We brought snowshoes for the way out, which proved to definitely help - the snow was typically soft, but supportive (not much postholing). The melting of the snowpack was uncharacteristic in spring 2019, being close to 1 month behind average.

We originally intended to ascend the North couloir described in Dave Cooper's CO Snow Climbs book. The north face of Democrat had good snow coverage, however, so we picked another line (that might not come in every year). While it is described to usually hold a lot of snow, consider also that you can't see Cooper's North couloir directly on the approach to verify the angle. We put on crampons at N39.34693 W106.13516 at 12,303' to top out at N39.33943 W106.13720 at 13,983' (a 1,680' gain on snow).

Times: we met in Conifer at 3 am to start from the summer trailhead near Lincoln Falls at 4:50. We followed up the Platte Gulch valley, going left at the fork in the valley. We reached the base of the couloir at 8:30, the top of the couloir at 11:30, Democrat summit at 11:53. We descended to reach the Democrat-Cameron saddle at 1pm, departing the base after glissading at 1:49, arriving at the trailhead at 4:21.

Angles: 27.6 in the lower base section; 37.8 and 36.2 in the middle section; i did not not the top section; 34.9 in the middle of the descent from the Democrat-Cameron saddle.Photo album at:

Photos at: