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James Peak
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Superstar Couloir 

YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c

   
Type:  Trad, Alpine, Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.2 French: 3 Ewbanks: 8 UIAA: II ZA: 8 British: D 2c [details]
FA: unknown
Page Views: 6,026
Submitted By: pcorridon on Jan 1, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (9)
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Last moves.

Description 

From the top of St. Mary's Glacier, head NW across an alpine meadow and then drop down into the cirque on the east side of James Peak. Head SW and go around the south side of James Peak lake. Climb the scree slope up into the bowl half way up the eastern face. The climb begins up the obvious, deeply inset couloir on your right.

Once in the couloir, the route is obvious. Follow the snow slope up. The snow conditions were excellent and we chose to climb the entire route unroped. Depending upon the time of the year, the entire couloir may be snow filled or there may be sections of rock to climb. The rock sections are rated 5.4 in Roach's guide, though what rock we climbed didn't appear that hard. The crux of the climb is at the top where a cornice may be present. When we climbed in July '02, the last pitch was all rock, with the easiest line on the right side of the couloir. There was one move around a block which gave pause. Other than that, and stepping over the moats from the rock back onto the snow, everything was straight forward. The top of the couloir empties out onto the hiking trail running up the NE ridge. Head left about 400 yards to the top.

Protection 

We carried a small rack of nuts, hexes, and 2 pickets.


Photos of Superstar Couloir Slideshow Add Photo
Climbing into the notch.
Climbing into the notch.
Superstar couloir.  Photo by Steven Rosenthal.
Superstar couloir. Photo by Steven Rosenthal.
Superstar Couloir, James Peak, RMNP/Alpine 6/23/98...
BETA PHOTO: Superstar Couloir, James Peak, RMNP/Alpine 6/23/98...
Super Star on June 20th, 2004.
Super Star on June 20th, 2004.
Hanging out at the moat.
Hanging out at the moat.
View of Superstar couloir and approach from the SE...
View of Superstar couloir and approach from the SE...
Climbing rock in Superstar.
Climbing rock in Superstar.
Looking back down Superstar.
Looking back down Superstar.
About halway up the couloir.
About halway up the couloir.
Simon Edwards on the Superstar couloir, James Peak...
Simon Edwards on the Superstar couloir, James Peak...
Here's a shot of Simon Edwards on the Left, lower ...
Here's a shot of Simon Edwards on the Left, lower ...
Climbing out of the notch.
Climbing out of the notch.
Cranking choss!
Cranking choss!
Matt and Mike climbing steep snow in Superstar.
Matt and Mike climbing steep snow in Superstar.

Comments on Superstar Couloir Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 1, 2011
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Mar 13, 2003

From the photos, this would appear to be a late season ascent (July or Aug?), although the date claims January 1st!

Interestingly, you can see the top of this couloir briefly when driving west on I-70 if you know where and when to look ... This can give you an idea of the condition of the cornice.
By pcorridon
Mar 31, 2003

Climb was on 7/10/02. Jan date was when I added route to the site. The mistake was probably my ineptitude for entering information.
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 1, 2003

Wow, what a horrible snow year 2002 was. I climbed Shooting Star on June 26th, 1998, and there was WAY more snow in Superstar than shown in these photos, including a huge cornice. In a normal year the couloir wouldn't look like the first picture until late August, I would guess.
By Leo Paik
Administrator
From: Westminster, Colorado
Jun 22, 2003

Superstar is in fine shape. There are a couple water troughs up to 5 feet deep. There is a small-to-moderate cornice. The snow softened considerably to provide mostly kicksteps. In appearance, it looks much like G. Roach's 1998 guide's picture on p 138.

Also, there is very little rock pro available. Aliens to a #3 Friend are useful. Pickets, at least 3 are adviseable if you wish to protect the climbing. If you start to belay at the split from Shooting Star, there are at least 4 pitches if you go all the way up the couloir (for us 190', 195', 100', 220') (not 3 pitches as per Roach). There are 2 possible exits L of the cornice. The lower one starts perhaps 40 feet below the cornice with slightly difficult to protect rock moves (best without crampons) traversing L and then angling up and R. 5.4 s? There is another exit L just below the cornice traversing and angling L with challenging pro that Scott did.
By Scott Kozub
Jun 23, 2003

The climb was in fantastic condition (6.22.03). The snow was a little on the softer side but still offered good steps and allowed the axe shaft to bite, snow pickets had purchase too. Recommend taking 2 ice tools instead of a single standard axe as the angle does reach 55 and even 60 in some rare places. 4 pitches from the mouth of the couloir to the cornice at the top. Difficult to find rock pro along the way. Recommend carrying 3-4 pickets with a small rack for the exit. Our exit was several feet away from the cornice to the left (unlike Roach's description) and traversed left across the rock and then up and over. Difficult to protect with rock pro, small pieces are best (no need to carry anything beyond a #.75 Camalot). The rock buttress immediately right of the cornice looks very rotten from the top (appears solid while in the climb) and could tear away in the near future.

Approached from Tolland (south of Nederland by Moffat Tunnel) 4WD trail that goes up to Kingston Peak.
By Jeff Barnow
From: Boulder Co
Jun 26, 2006

6/24/06 Route was in good shape and had snow throughout it. The cornice at the top of the route was in and seemed to be fairly small comparatively. The snow was hard and never really softened up before our ski descent around 11:30AM. Our party of three never felt the need to rope up although the snow was great for axe and picket placements.
By Mark Oveson
From: Louisville, Colorado
Jun 28, 2006

Warren Teissier, John Prater, and I climbed Super Star on June 17, 2006. Conditions were very good. Overnight temps were sufficiently cold to produce very firm snow. There was plenty of snow still up there, but a few little crevasses were starting to form up high in the couloir. We avoided all the confusion about where the rock pitch goes by climbing the entire couloir, including the cornice. By staying on the far left side this goes nicely. Some rock protection is available in the upper couloir. The snow is about 60 degrees just below the cornice, and you have to make a couple of moderate moves to sneak around the left side. I would recommend a rope for this finish. On our ascent there was a cantaloupe-sized hole all the way through the cornice near the left edge. This allowed me to place an ice axe all the way behind the cornice to protect the hard moves.
By Merlin
From: Grand Junction
Aug 24, 2006

The tower just right of the top may be climbed at 5.6/5.7 but is runout in spots.
By Kevin Gillest
From: Arvada, CO
Jul 1, 2011

Climbed and skied SuperStar Coulior on Thursday June 23, 2011 with Carl Pluim and John Choboian. We were in the couloir at 10am, probably should have been there earlier due to the temp and date. We chose Not to ski from the Cornice due to snow conditions. Lots of snow left here on this date.
Show exacts of climb, ski and avy created by rockf...
Show exacts of climb, ski and avy created by rockfall, WEAR YOUR HELMET!


Inclinometer shows about 50 degrees.
Inclinometer shows about 50 degrees.


Carl Pluim in couloir, cornice seen above.
Carl Pluim in couloir, cornice seen above.


Dropping into couloir, hard turns, snow conditions...
Dropping into couloir, hard turns, snow conditions real challenging.


Looking down Couloir at John Choboian.
Looking down Couloir at John Choboian.