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Shooting Star is an excellent mountaineering route that ascends a narrow couloir steeply to the summit on the east face of James Peak. It is one of several impressive couloirs on James Peak, but Shooting Star takes the most direct line to the summit--a true classic.
Note: the "rock" description for directions and other info regarding Indian Peaks and James Peak. The best season for this route is late May-July although quite varying conditions can be expected between this short span. In May, the couloir is still hard packed snow, but watch out for rockfall in the initial wide couloir. Although we didn't see any rockfall, Roach notes that in May-early June, the upper wall is shedding rock. By late June-July, the last 200ft. of the narrow and shady couloir is ice.
Also, since the route is on the east face, an early start is highly advisable. We summited at 7:30am on a cloudy day in May and the snow started getting a little soft shortly afterward on the descent.
From the James Peak Lake in the east basin, hike around the lake (either way) to end up on its NW side. Climb up the moderately steep snow field covering a talus slope to the upper basin below James Peak's east face. Shooting Star, Super Star, and Sky Pilot couloirs all star up the same wide snow field under the middle of the face. The first couloir you'll pass is Sky Pilot, which veers south (left) at a lower angle. Keep climbing higher into the narrowing couloir (about 40deg slope) and you'll see Super Star heading steeply off to the right. Shooting Star is the other narrow couloir (obviously--the only other one) that angles left.
The angle and width of the couloir gradually steepens and narrows as one nears the summit. The climbing is exciting as you're trying to concentrate on moving up, but constantly looking down at the awesome couloir below. The final short section is 60deg and deposits you a skip and a jump from the summit.
From a camp at the James Peak Lake, you can expect to summit in about 2-3 hours and be back to camp well before lunch. To DESCEND, hike northeast from the summit down a gentle scree slope past the topout of Super Star (look down at the cornice from a rock point to the east) and then another 300m downhill to the east until you see a more gentle slope for glissading. Although this slope is south-facing, it should be nice for glissading most of the season. At the bottom of this slope, you'll be able to navigate back to the NW shore of the lake.
PHOTOS COMING SOON!!
Several pickets (24" length is good) and possibly a few ice screws depending on the time of year. Crampons are definitely required later in the season (late June-July) since the last pitch has turned to ice. They sure didn't hurt in May either. I brought tri-cams thinking I could place them on the sides of the couloir, but the rock really doesn't offer much for pro--it's either too fractured or thin.
BETA PHOTO: Shooting Star is the couloir on the upper left.
Dan Mottinger following the last pitch up the stee...
Dan, taking a break before sunrise--almost to the ...
This is my friend Brian when we climbed Shooting S...
Dan standing in front of the last, narrow, and ste...
Looking back down at the herd.
Topping out...and she was really pretty too!
At the lip.
An example of the steepness.
There are a few places to set rock pro near the to...
A fall is potentially exposed to cliffs.
|Comments on Shooting Star
|By Matt Bauman|
May 29, 2001
Did this route ropeless last year about the same time.....scared the crap outa me and have stuck to rock only since. There were so many recent avalanches and we were worried that it could happen again at anytime..... the upper part of the couloir is definitely the coolest, very exposed and exciting....steep.....DON'T FALL!!!!! Cool topout. Any one want to buy some icetools???
|By Rob Mullen|
Sep 25, 2001
Does anyone know what the vertical rise of this chute is? Anyone ever ski it?
|By George Bell|
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 5, 2002
I climbed this excellent couloir back in 1998. Amazingly, there were ski tracks on Super Star (nuts!). The whole E Face of James is very active (read, "rotten") and we heard several rocks zing past. A helmet is recommended.
Oct 30, 2002
Definitely a classic. I did it in early June this year, in the heat wave. A mite slushy at the top, which made the last 100' a bit challenging in places getting over chockstones and swimming up the couloir and such, but otherwise it was a stellar climb. The face was shedding some rock, too. Super Star still held a cornice. Easy alpine day from the upper Mammoth Gulch TH.
|By Martin le Roux|
From: Superior, CO
Apr 24, 2006
Climbed this on April 24 with John Christie. Lots of snow -- we did 90% of the approach on skis -- but nicely consolidated after a couple of weeks of warm weather. Approached from St. Mary's Glacier. Sunny warm day, which made for slushy conditions towards the top of the climb. We didn't find any ice. We carried two axes each, rope, pickets, etc. but all we used were crampons and a single axe. Other posters have mentioned that the angle reaches 60 degrees at the top, but we didn't find anything much steeper than 50 degrees. Maybe that's because it was still early in the season.