Peak(s):  Pikes Peak  -  14,110 feet
Date Posted:  05/18/2011
Modified:  08/11/2015
Date Climbed:   05/17/2011
Author:  BillMiddlebrook
 Y Couloir   

YUP, another Y Couloir TR!!!

Conditions in the Y Couloir were pretty good yesterday so I thought it might help to post this extended conditions report...

Started up the road at 9am and after pulling a Forest Service truck out of the ditch near 12,000', I finally got to the summit and started my solo ski at 10:45. The couloir had a few inches of fresh powder deposited over the weekend and it hadn't crusted over due to cool, cloudy conditions. Not bad for Mid-May! While the ski was pretty mellow, I found some spicy climbing on my ascent through the (climber-left side) cliff bands.

Route: Pikes Peak, "Y Couloir" east branch
Ski Rating: Advanced, D12 / R2 / II
Climb Rating: Steep snow, class 3 scrambling required
Ski Vertical: 1,900'
Re-climb time: 3 hours (yup, I'm slow)
Junked cars on route: 2

The north face from Woodland Park

Ski Descent

Top of the east branch

Dropping in

A Mid-May powder day

Approaching the cliff bands

The cliff bands (13,600') at the intersection of east and west Y branches. The wrecked car is center.

Lordhelmet mentioned it was easiest to exit left at the car and climb over to the west branch to continue the ski. Currently, this is the easiest way to bypass the cliffs.
Exiting left over the rocks. The car is on the lower right.

An easy, exposed scramble over the rocks separating the east and west branches

Looking up the west branch after getting back on skis

A look back at the ski from the cross-over

Negotiating some rocks

Another look at the continuous snow used to bypass the cliffs

Back in the main couloir

After passing the narrow section, below the cliff bands

Heading to the bottom of the snow

The OTHER wrecked car, at 12,200'


A look up from 12,300', the Railroad Couloir angles up to the left

Booting back up

Back in the Y

Another look down

Back to the narrow section, below the cliff bands

Approaching the cliff bands

A look down as I was climbing up through the cliffs on the climber-left side

Near the wrecked car, looking over the cliffs

Back near the top

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

05/18/2011 14:16
Appreciate the TR, hoping to head there this weekend. We'll follow the tracks barring any new dumpage.


Lookin' good Bill.
05/18/2011 14:27
Ski mountaineering on credit is always fun!


glad you got it done
05/18/2011 16:41
Nice Bill, getting it in solid conditions. Its a fun, easy to obtain line, just wish it was a little longer.


05/18/2011 16:47
I was surprised to see that fresh, untouched snow in there. I'd like to get back to it someday when there's enough snow to take some fun drops through those cliffs. With a big dump of snow, that section could be a blast!

Kevin Baker

05/18/2011 19:41
Nice work, Bill! Looks like the conditions have drastically improved since I attempted it in April. I was beginning to wonder if it would ever fill in this spring, although the snowpack is still well below normal.


05/18/2011 20:35
So were you able to resist the temptation to chuck your skis Bill, and just jump straight in for a free fall uncontrolled slide all the way down- like those jokers on that snow-mobile vid?! ha-
That crazy vid was the best laugh I've had on here this year!

Nice climb and ski- Hope your wife is doing well and comes thru 100% healed and back to normal life soon.

Vermont Refugee

Looks like a good ski, even if the climb back was
05/18/2011 20:39
Dang - I look at Pike's North face every morning and I didn't think there was enough snow to be skiable. Your trip shows that it was skiable, but I was proabably right in that it was not skiable by me. Great pictures


05/18/2011 20:49
JoeyJ, Ha - no, I'd much rather be cranking turns instead of riding it down on my ass, without an axe. Lisa is doing ok and going through the process. Today was a chemo day.

VR, plenty of snow and it may get more soon! Unless there's a lot more deposited soon, skiers will have to remove skis temporarily to negotiate the cliff band.


Thanks for the good report
05/18/2011 21:22
Thanks for letting us know = Glad she's OK and will certainly lift that up.
My mom is a cancer survivor- she had it mid 90s, and remember how devastatingly difficult it was to see someone you love have to endure such suffering. Chemo days are scary, and after affects can be horrendous.
I admire your courage and will keep thinking of you and strength for your family~


nice stats section
05/19/2011 17:41
I like your mentioning of the junked cars, 2! Ha! For anyone not familiar with the cars up there, one would not expect to see that!
Certainly a shallow snowpack up there right now to see both cars too.
Nice report Bill.


don't forget the hamburger shop
05/25/2011 01:24
Nice work out there Bill. I try to get that line every year. It's just so fun. Agree with the helmet, it could be longer. Besides it's an interesting mix up, how often do we get to ski first climb last. I never have actually eaten at the cafe.


Ski first, climb later
05/25/2011 21:28
I REALLY like that part of skiing Pikes. Maybe cuz I'm fat and slow. Maybe cuz I'm old and have asthma. Maybe cuz I climb plenty and really, really like to get to the skiing. Any way I look at it, skiing with fresh legs is my fav. Sure, it's a great feeling to climb to the ski but I've always been more of a skier than a climber.

It reminds me that the only way I'll probably ski Capitol is to heli-drop 1st, ski 2nd.

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