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Arapahoe Peaks
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Skywalker Couloir 
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Skywalker Couloir 

   
Type:  Alpine, 1500', Grade II
FA: unknown
Page Views: 10,463
Submitted By: ClimbandMine on Jun 1, 2002

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Aaron Cloud drops into the Princess Leia finish.

...

Description 

Skywalker Couloir is the main couloir on the south face of South Arapahoe Peak. Approach via Eldora, Hessie, and the Fourth of July Mine trail. From the mine, take the right fork up the trail toward the couloir, and when the trail turns east up the hillside, head straight north to the base of the couloir. It starts at about 40 degrees and gradually steepens to 55 degrees near the top. A direct finish (Princess Leia variation) through a narrow slot is steeper - 60-65 degrees and quite aesthetic. In early June 2002 most of the couloir was good neve and some ice, although there were fresh slide zones and some spots of undercut soft snow. The direct finish was a hairy mix of rotten snow and ice that barely held steps or crampon sticks. Alternate finishes go left and right to avoid this. The summit is 300' east.

The couloir is well-documented in Roach's Indian Peaks guidebook. Have fun!


Protection 

An occasional picket could prove useful, and some gear can be placed in the walls of the couloir.



Photos of Skywalker Couloir Slideshow Add Photo
Topping out on the Leia finish on 6.04.04.
Topping out on the Leia finish on 6.04.04.
Mike Mullen skiing the upper section of the Skywalker Couloir.
Mike Mullen skiing the upper section of the Skywal...
Sandy Beazley 2/3 way up Skywalker. Photo by Ed McDonald.
Sandy Beazley 2/3 way up Skywalker. Photo by Ed Mc...
John Rudolph about halfway Skywalker, May 2008.
John Rudolph about halfway Skywalker, May 2008.
The couloir as of 6/12/03.
The couloir as of 6/12/03.
2006.06.18.
2006.06.18.
2006.06.18 <br /> <br />Nearing the top of the couloir ! <br /> <br /><ul style='margin:0 0; padding:0 0;'><li> DO YOU KNOW THIS CLIMBER?</li></ul>
2006.06.18

Nearing the top of the couloir !

  • DO...
First half is this steep.
First half is this steep.
Looking down the final part of the Princess Leia finish.
Looking down the final part of the Princess Leia f...
Looking down Skywalker on 6.04.04 from  <br />just below the steep Leia finish.
Looking down Skywalker on 6.04.04 from
just below...
Skywalker is in good shape as of 5/29/04.
Skywalker is in good shape as of 5/29/04.
Looking down from just above the steepest  <br />part of the  Leia finish.
Looking down from just above the steepest
part of...
Skywalker.
BETA PHOTO: Skywalker.
Climbing up the gully/runnel in the middle.
Climbing up the gully/runnel in the middle.
Photo taken by Marcel Godbout.  This is the Princess Leia section of the couloir.  It got very narrow here, about 5 feet, I had to remove my skis and downclimb about 50 feet.
Photo taken by Marcel Godbout. This is the Prince...
Looking up from the middle section.
Looking up from the middle section.
Skywalker 6/20/10 approaching the bottom.
BETA PHOTO: Skywalker 6/20/10 approaching the bottom.
Ed McDonald 15 minutes into the couloir.
Ed McDonald 15 minutes into the couloir.
MaryKay brandishes her light saber topping out on the Princess Leia finish.
MaryKay brandishes her light saber topping out on ...
Lower portion of the couloir.  Small debris runnel.  Start the climb early to avoid rockfall!
BETA PHOTO: Lower portion of the couloir. Small debris runnel...
Hiking up.
BETA PHOTO: Hiking up.
This photo was taken by Marcel Godbout, from near the top of the princess leia finish.  Skiing the upper section of the couloir, on good years I think that the rock band is normally covered by snow.There was a huge channel to the left of the rock band that effectively reduced the width to about 10 feet.
This photo was taken by Marcel Godbout, from near ...
Climbing up. It's steeper then it looks.
BETA PHOTO: Climbing up. It's steeper then it looks.
Oct. 17th, 2009.
Oct. 17th, 2009.
Oct. 17th, 2009.
Oct. 17th, 2009.
The view westward from Skywalker.
The view westward from Skywalker.
Skywalker from the descent 6/20/10.
BETA PHOTO: Skywalker from the descent 6/20/10.
A couple shots.
BETA PHOTO: A couple shots.
Leia finish, fully covered.  Left exit guarded by cornices 6/20/10.
BETA PHOTO: Leia finish, fully covered. Left exit guarded by ...
Conditions on 20-Jun-06.  Solid snow early and softening quickly once the sun hits.
BETA PHOTO: Conditions on 20-Jun-06. Solid snow early and sof...
Conditions on 6/18/2006.
BETA PHOTO: Conditions on 6/18/2006.
Skywalker on July 4, 2007.
BETA PHOTO: Skywalker on July 4, 2007.
2006.06.18.
2006.06.18.
Just starting on the Leia finish.  May 15, 2007.  Great conditions.
Just starting on the Leia finish. May 15, 2007. ...
Conditions on June 15, 2008, a late snow year. The climb was in EXCELLENT Shape!
BETA PHOTO: Conditions on June 15, 2008, a late snow year. The...
Walked by Skywalker on the way back from Mt. Neva. Thought I would update the photo. Hope it helps!
BETA PHOTO: Walked by Skywalker on the way back from Mt. Neva....
Comments on Skywalker Couloir Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 30, 2013
By ClimbandMine
Jun 5, 2002

Oh yeah, its a little over two miles to the base of the couloir - a fast hike. Took me 45 minutes to where I cut off-trail, plus another 10 of scree hiking up the slope.

By Rob Mullen
Jun 5, 2002

This is also quite a good ski descent. Probably best to wait til next year though. We skied it last Sunday, 6/1/2002 and it was very thin in the middle section. Also if you are skiing, it's best to just skip the princess leia finish and boot up below it, or climb to the top and give it a try. The problem is is that it's too narrow, about 5 feet, to sideslip, so you would just have to straightpoint a 50 foot section of 60 degree snow, I'm sure it can be done, but not by me. Ideal starting time for a ski descent is between 11:30 and noon. Enjoy!!

By Scott Bower
From: Fort Collins, CO
Jun 4, 2003

Climbed 6/1/2003. Found the snow conditions to be relatively consolidated, but not well frozen. The Princess Leia finish was full of consolidated snow with steps already kicked into it. Topped out in whiteout conditions and returned by glissading most of the couloir including the lower part of Princess Leia, which was manageable only because the snow was getting so soft.

By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 12, 2003

This climb is in excellent condition as of 6/12/03. There is much more snow now than in the two photos above, the Princess Leia finish is at least 20 feet wide and seemed very steep, over 45 degrees for sure. The top half of this climb has a 5 foot deep water groove running down the middle which we climbed up. This groove would make ski descents problematic, or at least more difficult. The lower 2/3 of this couloir is not that steep but the Princess Leia finish really makes up for this.

By Dave Andrews
Jun 23, 2003

Climbed Skywalker this past Saturday 6/21/03. The couloir still has a lot of snow and it was fairly hard early in the morning. I started at 6:15 and topped out around 8:15. It was tough to kick steps before 7:30. The water trough was pretty icy in places. There is a snow bridge at the bottom of the Princess Leia finish that is melting pretty fast. It was solid when I crossed it around 8 am, but I imagine it gets soft by about 10. It was no more than 2.5 feet thick. I could see icicles hanging from the bottom side, so it won't be there for long. Once it goes, the Princess Leia finish will be done for the year. There are still some other good ways to exit the couloir near the top. This climb may still be in for about 3 more weeks. (except for the Princess Leia finish).

By Anonymous Coward
Jun 1, 2004

Climbed Skywalker on Saturday May 29th. It was in STELLAR condition. Best I've seen it in a couple years. Beautiful styrafoam snow nice and hardpack. Even a couple spots up near the Lea exit of waterfall ice over some rock bands to mix things up a bit. Not sure what the weather this past weekend did to it but I'm sure it's still in great shape. Definitely get up on this one.

By Danny
Jun 23, 2004

Climbed Skywalker on Sat 6-19-04. Princess Leia finish is still good. Overall, the snow is in excellent condition. This route is a real classic!!

By Anonymous Coward
Jun 21, 2005

That's 6/18 (i.e, Saturday), not 6/16. Same time a [bunch] of others were there. -Joe

By Tom Pierce
From: Englewood, CO
Jun 4, 2006

We climbed this route today (6/4/2006) and found pretty good conditions; hard snow early on but a bit soft and slushy in spots at 10AM at the top (it was 93 F in Denver and fairly warm there as well). It's a great route in a beautiful location, well worth doing. I was under the impression, however, that the Princess Leia variation was supposed to be near a 70 degree angle at the top, but I seriously doubt it ever was more than 55-60 and that was in a short section. The only way I could see it approaching 70 was if you took a rather contrived 15 foot long line to the extreme left (looking up) of the exit (see the photos of the mini-cornice above). So it didn't seem all that hard or steep to me, but of course worthy of respect nonetheless. Again, well worth doing.

By Caelan
From: Dysfunctional, CO
Jun 15, 2006

Climbed this Tues, 13 June 2006. Pure, Easy Glory. Left TH at 5:00am. Arrived at base of Couloir at 7:00am. Arrived at Princess Leia section ~9:00am. Topped out ~9:30am. Skywalker had very hard snow; Crampons were required. The Princess Leia finish is still in, but 2 snow bridges are becoming quite thin in this upper section. The snow on Princess Leia was quite soft, making the 60 degree terrain much easier than if it were hard (had we reached it earlier). I would recommend something beyond an ice axe (hybrid ice axe and/or ice tools) if you plan on hitting hard snow/ice up high on this route. The sun hits the upper portion around 8:30am. It took us 8 hrs car to car w/ the SE Ridge descent at a very relaxed pace (took a bunch of pics, 1 hr lunch, a couple breaks, no rush, etc.).

By Andy Leach
From: Fort Collins, CO
Jun 12, 2007

I was up it June 10, 2007. The conditions were great - no moats or bridges and good snow all the way up the Princes Leia finish. The snow at the top was pretty hard - definitely doable with one axe but I was happy to have a second tool along.

I shot this video: www.andyintherockies.com/trip.php?trip_id=63

By Tonya Clement
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 4, 2007

Had to avoid the heat in Boulder so we climbed Skywalker today, July 4, 2007. We were surprised to find the snow in great shape (styrafoam) all the way up to the Princess Leia finish where we found the snow band to be very narrow (less than 3 feet and rotten. It was so crumbly that we removed our crampons and climbed to the right on the rock for approximately 80 feet until we could regain the couloir higher up. The rock was a bit more difficult than a scramble...felt like 5.4 given we had heavy wet boots on. Actually placed a few pieces of good gear. With the exception of one other gentleman, we had the couloir all to ourselves on this busy holiday. The exit to the left looked good.

By Scott Matz
From: Loveland, CO
Nov 17, 2008

Excellent day up the couloir, snow is in pretty good conditions, hard most of the way, and soft in some spots. We did see a good size crack about 6" wide ready to give under good weather, this could be dangerous, it's about twenty feet long, about 3/4 up on the left. otherwise we down climbed to our truck via the east ridge, and glisaded about 800 ft. It was awesome.

By Simon Fryer
Jun 5, 2009

Great trip report from a ski descent of Skywalker a few weeks back.
coloradomountainschool.blogspot.com/2009/05/spring-ski-mount>>>
I love the spring skiing around here.

By Eric Haye
From: Boulder
Jun 12, 2011

Climbed Skwalker on 6.12.11. Great conditions. Classic climb.

By Canon
Jun 17, 2011

As of June 16th, the exits are all still very much IN. Small runnel halfway up the couloir. Solid snow on the entire approach hike, the road in has some deep puddles in spots.

By Sara Campbell
Jun 30, 2013

At 8:30 this morning 6/30/2013 the snow at the base of Princess Leia was unconsolidated and thin and didn't support weight. Instead, one could enter the Princess by climbing around the rotting snow on rock (or there was even a bit of solid ice on the side), but lacking rope/pro, we downclimbed to what was probably the "escape" exit as described by summitpost. We traversed left on the snow below the cliffs to the left of Leia and found straightforward class 3.