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James Peak

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First Star Couloir 
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Superstar Couloir T 

James Peak 


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Elevation: 13,294'
Location: 39.8522, -105.689 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 28,972
Administrators: Ben Mottinger, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: Ben Mottinger on Jan 1, 2001
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Some of the James Peak East Face routes.

Description 

James Peak (13,294') lies in an interesting location in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. From its summit, you can easily see Winter Park, Gray's and Torrey's, Evans and Bierstadt, and to the east, Boulder County. There are several easy routes to the summit that are popular with hikers, but there are also several high quality technical routes on the east face. The approach is not too long, and the east side basin does not see too much traffic (at least in the early season).

The technical routes are best done from May-July as they are snow and ice climbs up the fantastic couloirs on James Peak's east face. Super Star couloir is mostly steep snow, but some 5.4 scrambling is required to bypass a cornice at the top. Another couloir, Shooting Star is a classic; a steep snow/ice climb that ends almost right on the summit. Several other couloirs of varying difficulty ascend the eastern portion of the peak.

See Gerry Roach's book "Colorado's Indian Peaks" for more info.


Getting There 

There are at least four approaches to this peak. The most popular is the St. Mary's Glacier trail head off of I-70. Personally, I like to avoid I-70 if at all possible, so I took the eastern approach via the Upper Mammoth Gulch Trailhead.

From Boulder, head west up the canyon to Nederland, turn south on 119 to Rollinsville (4.9 mi.), then head west on a dirt road 5 mi. to Tolland. After you pass through the "town" of Tolland (don't blink) look for a rough road heading uphill to the left. If you've gone over the railroad tracks, turn around.

Follow this road (Mammoth Gulch Road), which is identified by signs as "176" or "353" about 2 mi. You'll see a junction here for "Mammoth Basin," which is the road to Lower Mammoth Gulch. Continue on uphill, eventually pulling out of the trees to a view of the mountains. The road will come to a "Y" junction at the top of a hill, now in trees again. Depending on the time of year, you'll be able to continue west on this narrow road for another 3mi as it loops around the north of Kingston Peak. When I did this (May 27) snow blocked the road at this junction, which is around 10,200ft. (according to my vintage 1946 Piper J-3 aircraft altimeter that's now mounted in my truck ;-) Gerry Roach notes in his book that snow blocked this road around 11,000ft. in mid-June.

Hike or drive (4WD) the 3mi. on an old two-track road up a ridge, then circling around Kingston Peak. If you're hiking, look for a trail sign on the NW side of Kingston Peak that drops sharply into the basin below James Peak's east face. It is about 1 more mile into the basin from here, but the ascent back out is arduous since the trail is very steep.

Depending (once again) on snow conditions, you'll need gaiters, but snoeshoes are not necessary and may cause more trouble since the snow is in patches with scree in between. Locate a nice campsite about a 100m uphill and to the south from the lake and to the west of an old mining cabin.

The lake is at 11,200ft. just 2100ft. below the summit. Enjoy yourself in this awesome alpine setting!


Climbing Season


5 Total Routes


['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',2],['2 Stars',2],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',1],['5.7',0],['5.8',0],['5.9',0],['5.10',0],['5.11',0],['5.12',0],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for James Peak:
Shooting Star        Trad, Alpine, Grade II   
Sky Pilot        Trad, Alpine, 1000'   
Superstar Couloir   5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c     Trad, Alpine, Grade II   
Browse More Classics in James Peak

Featured Route For James Peak
Near the top of the couloir.

Starlight   CO : Alpine Rock : ... : James Peak
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 de...[more]   Browse More Classics in CO

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By Aaron Shupp
Feb 15, 2002

I climbed one of the couloirs back in June of 2000. I'm not sure which one. The snow was soft enough to kick step. I found that out after realizing that I forgot my crampons. However, I would certainly recommend using them. I don't know if a rope would do much good very late in the season. But if the steeper routes are well frozen, some protection may or may not be useful.

By Anonymous Coward
Jun 10, 2002

Our small group ascended the "Sky Pilot" route on James on 6/10/02. It was very hot and the snow varied from reasonably firm to mushy in places. Most of the route was in good shape. There are quite a few stones in the snow: a helmet is recommended. The 4th class section described in Roach's guide was easy to pass on snow, but its melting fast. Another member of our group ascended the "Starlight" route further north and found good step kicking. We had hoped to do "Shooting Star", but it was melted out. A party of two climbed "Super Star", which appeared to have good snow and a big cornice. This is a really beautiful valley with some good spring ski/board descent possibilities on the east/north aspects for the hard core. We approached from St. Mary's - about 2 hours.

By Leo Paik
Administrator
From: Westminster, Colorado
Jun 22, 2003

Contrary to some bad info given to me (not from cb.com), the James Peak basin is in fine shape for climbs up the couloirs. There is minimal evidence of avalanche. There is evidence of some rockfall, and, as usual, rockfall will occur on an infrequent basis. Today, some was created by humans and by marmots. There is virtually no snow on the plateau above St. Mary's snowfield. There are relatively small cornices. Conditions are fairly similar to 1998, pre-drought.

AC, Sorry but I think you must have the wrong couloir for Shooting Star. 2 of my friends did it today (6/22/3) and found it full of snow! 2 folks skied the entire thing today. You have to go to pretty close to the split off to Superstar to find Shooting Star. It is hidden until you are just below it or in it.

By Leo Paik
Administrator
From: Westminster, Colorado
Jun 22, 2003

Beware of skiers, some folks skied Shooting Star couloir today (6/22/3). One on teles. Lots of whooping.