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This couloir is not on the main east face of James Peak but on the north-facing slopes east of the main east face. It is a quarter mile or so east of Shooting Star and Sky Pilot and only about half as long (and much easier than Shooting Star). The couloir reaches the mellow SE ridge of James Peak at a small notch at 12,950'. As with most snow climbs on James Peak, a helmet is recommended on this route because of the potential for rockfall.
This is a mellow snow climb and makes for a fun ski descent. Conditions are usually best in late May to early June. Unlike other couloirs on the peak, there is no cornice at the top of this one. It is probably the easiest couloir on James to ski because it is short and has a fairly good runout after the first few hundred feet. The upper section is about 35 degrees and less than 20' wide, however, so you need to be able to make fast turns.
Use one of the approaches in the description. If skiing, probably the best approach is from St. Mary's Glacier, although this does not allow you to climb the couloir first.
This couloir is not visible when approaching from Mammoth Gulch until you enter the upper basin. Then you will see it well left of Sky Pilot. It is quite broad lower down but narrows considerably for the last few hundred feet.
Starlight can be somewhat difficult to find from the top. We identified it as the only narrow strip of snow that actually reaches the ridge around 13,000'. The worst hazard when skiing this chute is sliding into a rock wall, so wear a helmet. Because of it's northern exposure this chute softens up later that the other couloirs on James. However by late June, the snow is generally gone from the top of this couloir and becomes an evil scree chute. Avoid this couloir if the top is melted out.
Pickets and flukes and maybe some rock gear, or skis
Looking up from near the bottom
Near the top of the couloir.
Starlight in 2003.
Starlight Couloir. Photo by Steven Rosenthal.
|By George Bell|
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 30, 2002
Minor correction: the 35 degree figure is from Gerry Roach's guide, but I think it's steeper than this at the top. Haddad and Faughey's ski guide claim 40 degrees, and we measured it with a clinemometer and as I recall it was nearly 45 degrees at the top. In any event, it is the narrowness of this couloir that poses the primary skiing challenge.
|By Kevin Craig|
Dec 2, 2002
Note that the photos below were taken in the Spring of 2000 (June 11 to be precise) not in December of 2002 as indicated.