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Elevation: 13,294 ft 4,052 m
GPS: 39.8522, -105.689
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Shared By: Ben Mottinger on Dec 31, 2000
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Tyler KC

Description Suggest change

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 Suggest change

There are at least four approaches to this peak. The most popular is the St. Mary's Glacier trailhead 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 3 miles 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 10,200 feet (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 11,000 feet. in mid-June.

Hike or drive (4WD) the 3 miles 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 11,200 feet just 2100 feet below the summit. Enjoy yourself in this awesome alpine setting!

If you park at the St. Mary's Glacier area, expect to pay $3 in a self-pay parking area that has been purchased by a private citizen. Parking along the road is marked as illegal.

6 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at James Peak

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
AI1-2 Steep Snow
Shooting Star
Trad, Ice, Snow, Alpine
Sky Pilot
Trad, Alpine
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c Steep Snow
Superstar Couloir
Trad, Snow, Alpine
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Shooting Star
AI1-2 Steep Snow Trad, Ice, Snow, Alpine
Sky Pilot
Trad, Alpine
Superstar Couloir
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c Steep Snow Trad, Snow, Alpine
More Classic Climbs in James Peak »

Sun & Shade Suggest change

Weather Averages

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Prime Climbing Season