Mountain Project Logo
To save paper & ink, use the [Hide] controls next to photos and comments so you only print what you need.

Skywalker Couloir

Steep Snow, Snow, 1500 ft (455 m), Grade II,  Avg: 3.5 from 79 votes
FA: unknown
Colorado > CO Ice & Mixed > Indian Peaks &… > Arapahoe Peaks


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!


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

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Aaron Cloud drops into the Princess Leia finish.<br>
Photo by Devan Johnson.
[Hide Photo] Aaron Cloud drops into the Princess Leia finish. Photo by Devan Johnson.
Topping out on the Leia finish on 6.04.04.
[Hide Photo] Topping out on the Leia finish on 6.04.04.
Mike Mullen skiing the upper section of the Skywalker Couloir.
[Hide Photo] Mike Mullen skiing the upper section of the Skywalker Couloir.
Sandy Beazley 2/3 way up Skywalker. Photo by Ed McDonald.
[Hide Photo] Sandy Beazley 2/3 way up Skywalker. Photo by Ed McDonald.
John Rudolph about halfway Skywalker, May 2008.
[Hide Photo] John Rudolph about halfway Skywalker, May 2008.
Conditions on 6/18/2006.
[Hide Photo] Conditions on 6/18/2006.
The couloir as of 6/12/03.
[Hide Photo] The couloir as of 6/12/03.
Skywalker is in good shape as of 5/29/04.
[Hide Photo] Skywalker is in good shape as of 5/29/04.
[Hide Photo] 2006.06.18.
Nearing the top of the couloir !<br>
[Hide Photo] 2006.06.18 Nearing the top of the couloir ! DO YOU KNOW THIS CLIMBER?
Climbing up. It's steeper then it looks.
[Hide Photo] Climbing up. It's steeper then it looks.
Climbing up the gully/runnel in the middle.
[Hide Photo] Climbing up the gully/runnel in the middle.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

  Steep Snow
[Hide Comment] 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. Jun 5, 2002
Rob Mullen
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] 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!! Jun 5, 2002
Scott Bower
Fort Collins, CO
[Hide Comment] 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. Jun 4, 2003
George Bell
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] 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. Jun 12, 2003
[Hide Comment] 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). Jun 23, 2003
[Hide Comment] 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. Jun 1, 2004
[Hide Comment] 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!! Jun 23, 2004
[Hide Comment] That's 6/18 (i.e, Saturday), not 6/16. Same time a [bunch] of others were there. -Joe Jun 21, 2005
Tom Pierce
Englewood, CO
[Hide Comment] 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. Jun 4, 2006
Wynn Viimeinen
[Hide Comment] 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.). Jun 15, 2006
Andy Leach
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] 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:… Jun 12, 2007
Tonya Clement
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] 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. Jul 4, 2007
Scott Matz
Loveland, CO
[Hide Comment] 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. Nov 17, 2008
[Hide Comment] Great trip report from a ski descent of Skywalker a few weeks back.…
I love the spring skiing around here. Jun 5, 2009
Eric Haye
[Hide Comment] Climbed Skwalker on 6.12.11. Great conditions. Classic climb. Jun 12, 2011
[Hide Comment] 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. Jun 17, 2011
Sara Campbell
[Hide Comment] 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. Jun 30, 2013
William Thiry
Las Vegas
[Hide Comment] Great route. Chose to bypass direct Leia headwall finish by climbing rocks on right. Found this rock section to be very loose and dangerous - not recommended to go right. Jun 14, 2017
Daniel Bateman
Rutland, MA
[Hide Comment] Climbed this yesterday 6/24/2017, the bottom section was good after a night below freezing, but there is a section of snow melted out below the direct exit. I also found a very nice ice tool melting out of the snow towards the top of the couloir. Send me a PM if you are/know the owner! Jun 25, 2017
Andrew F
Golden, CO
[Hide Comment] Perfect neve from bottom to top yesterday 6/30/2020. Go get after it. The direct exit is still in but will melt out in the next week or two. Jul 1, 2020