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 ADVANCED
Flattop Mountain - N side
Select Route:
East Couloir T 
Flattop Gully 
Hourglass, The T 
Ptarmigan Glacier 
West Couloir T 

East Couloir 

WI2

   
Type:  Trad, Ice
Consensus: WI2 [details]
FA: unknown
Season: summer, early winter
Page Views: 1,716
Submitted By: ClimbandMine on Dec 13, 2001

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (12)
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Nancy Bell about two-thirds of the way up East Cou...

Description 

East Couloir is the left of the three Flattop Mountain couloirs at the head if Odessa Gorge. Mostly snow, although it forms some funny shapes and steps in late summer. Just a good 1000' cruise.

Protection 

Pickets, if you really feel the need to rope up.


Photos of East Couloir Slideshow Add Photo
View of current conditions (8/14/10). Hard snow at bottom, transitioning into alpine ice. Ice screws wouldn't work well yet. Alpine ice at top, but with a sugary crust of snow. Very steep exit (Exciting solo).
BETA PHOTO: View of current conditions (8/14/10). Hard snow at...
BETA PHOTO
Nancy Bell near the top of East Couloir, 8-1-2007.
Nancy Bell near the top of East Couloir, 8-1-2007.
Bryan at the water ice near the top.
Bryan at the water ice near the top.
Mid-way up the couloir on what turned out to be a great day.
Mid-way up the couloir on what turned out to be a ...
Looking down from the top.
Looking down from the top.
Nancy Bell heads left underneath a large block near the top of East Couloir, 8-1-2007.
Nancy Bell heads left underneath a large block nea...
On the rock buttress near the upper right section of coulior.  About M2 in difficulty.
On the rock buttress near the upper right section ...
The top of East Couloir, 7-21-2007. This photo is actually a continuation of the previous, taken from the exact same spot.
The top of East Couloir, 7-21-2007. This photo is ...
Looking up the East Coulior.  Note rock buttress below the top right side of the coulior.  To the right of the picture, you can see the middle ("Hourglass") and West couloirs.
Looking up the East Coulior. Note rock buttress b...
The leftmost side as of 11 Aug. 2011.
The leftmost side as of 11 Aug. 2011.
Top of the East Coulior from the east.  Note overhanging cornice and the top of the rock buttress below.
Top of the East Coulior from the east. Note overh...
Rock belay about 1/3 of the way up on 10/18/03.
Rock belay about 1/3 of the way up on 10/18/03.
Chris about to finish the alpine ice at the top of the climb.
Chris about to finish the alpine ice at the top of...
Nancy Bell near the top of East Couloir, which reveals its first patch of alpine ice of the season, 8-1-2007.
Nancy Bell near the top of East Couloir, which rev...
Brent low on the climb.
Brent low on the climb.
Nancy Bell near the top of East Couloir, 8-1-2007.
Nancy Bell near the top of East Couloir, 8-1-2007.
Looking up at the route, 6-3-2007.
Looking up at the route, 6-3-2007.
Looking down upon East Couloir, 7-21-2007. The snow toward the bottom of the photo is a cornice in the foreground that has nothing to do with the couloir.
Looking down upon East Couloir, 7-21-2007. The sno...
 Moonset over the Flattop Couloirs, 8-1-2007.
Moonset over the Flattop Couloirs, 8-1-2007.
Diana Laughlin on her way to ski   Ptarmigan Glacier, although it looks like she's heading toward East Couloir. A climber can be seen as a tiny speck near the top left-hand portion of the route. This photo was taken on 7-30-2006.
Diana Laughlin on her way to ski Ptarmigan Glaci...
 Nancy Bell heads to the base of East Couloir, 8-1-2007.
Nancy Bell heads to the base of East Couloir, 8-1...
All three routes.
BETA PHOTO: All three routes.
Looking up East Couloir from the bottom, 8-1-2007.
Looking up East Couloir from the bottom, 8-1-2007.

Show All 27 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on East Couloir Add Comment
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By Malcolm Daly
From: Boulder, CO
Jan 6, 2002

This is a great snow route. In the late 70's Dick Hohm and Jack harvey were avalanched the entire length of this gully during a late October attempt. The main gully was snow-free but there was a lens of fresh blown snow where the cornice usually forms up. This slid when they were on it and took them on a ride to the bottom. Jack shattered his leg and hobbled out on Dicks shoulder. Somewhere in the talus at the bottom of this gully lies a 55cm Chouinard bamboo shafted Piolet.
By Kevin Craig
Oct 22, 2003

Climbed this on 10/18/2003 with Bryan Barnett. Super hard snow but not quite grey AI - only minimal crampon penetration. Screws worked for running belays. Don't let the low angle at the bottom fool you, if you slip there's little or no chance for self-arrest. We saw a climber from Ft. Collins take a 200+ ft. bobsled ride down the lower apron and live to tell about it -scary. Take 2 tools, but you won't swing them overhead much; mostly the last 200' or so. For the last several rope lengths, there's good rock gear on the left side - we used tri-cams (pink-white) to good effect. Very little sun on the route this time of year; the far right side gets about an hour or so around noon. Great route, excellent condition.
By Kurt Bittner
Jul 27, 2004

Climbed this Sunday 7/25 with Matt Kear. A clear night and a recent cold front gave us hard neve while the shade lasted (stayed far left as long as the shade remained). Once the sun hit everything softened-up pretty quickly. We climbed a rock buttress splitting the upper section just below the top (~M2), then finished by climbing a steep (70 degree) slope leading to the headwall formed by the collapsed cornice. The headwall was vertical to overhanging - a challenge in the softening snow. There was AI2 terrain to the left, but the section above the buttress was more like AI3-AI4. Very fun!
By Brendan Sheehan
Sep 3, 2004

Climbed this 9-3-04. Here's my take on conditions, etc. There is no significant trace of last weeks new snow, conditions are typical late summer hard snow/ice. Bottom 2/3: ice to very hard snow at around 40 degrees. Top 1/3: hard snow at around 50 degrees. Exit: options exist from 50 degrees to 70+. We took the steeper option and belayed the last 100 feet. The final 20-30 feet was very secure hard snow at about 70 degrees. I was able to get a solid picket in below this section with some motivated hammering.
By Kurt Johnson
From: Estes Park, CO
Sep 23, 2007

After reading the route conditions and ratings of the previous posts, I'm surprised at how mellow and easy it was when Nancy and I did it this past August. The snow was really soft the whole way and the steepness for the most part was low-angle until the top where I'd considerate it moderate (I'm not very good at estimating the angle, so I'll leave it at that). Perhaps all that snow we got last winter changed the nature of the route. I'm sure it's the reason for the fact that the alpine ice was only now just begining to show through (one small patch near the top), but perhaps it also has something to do with the fact that the top wasn't all that steep. (From the photos I took, it may seem like the conditions would've been more serious because we were roped up, but we were just using the rope because Nancy doesn't have a lot of snow climbing experience and I wanted to increase the safety factor, especially since we just got married :) Also, I didn't know anything about this route and had no idea know how serious it was, even though it looked straightforward.)
By Caverdude
Aug 15, 2010

Soloed the route (8/14/10) expecting hard snow climbing, but dealt with hard snow transitioning into alpine ice. The angle of the route is very low for the first 1/2 to 2/3, but it quickly steepens up. The exit can be quite exciting since the cornice remnant is very steep and is alpine ice with a "sugary" snow crust. I freesoloed it, but it would have been nice to have a rope for the last pitch. Recommend an early start too as upper part of climb gets morning sun. Experienced some rockfall, with two rocks large enough to kill.
By Jon E.
Aug 24, 2011
rating: WI2

Soloed the route 8/11/11, solid snow most of the way, but towards the head wall things got a little sketchy. It is easy to bail out and scramble up the left side, but watch for loose rock. Single tool gets you 3/4 of the way there, probably all the way if you use a rope on the head wall. Good climb though, I will be looking to repeat.
By Debbie McLain
From: Louisville, CO
Jul 8, 2013

Climbed this 7/6/13 and the conditions were OK given we got a late start. Some rockfall, maybe caused by a HUGE marmot, so stay close to the right side for alcove cover. Good belay options by slinging rocks on the right side. Gradual increase in grade at the top made for a fun finish. Saw some skiers over in the other Odessa Gorge gullies, but snow is getting thin all over. Next!!