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Mount Blue Sky

snow West Gully
Difficulty Class 3 
Snow Steepness: Steep 
Ski/Board: Extreme, D12 / R3 / I  
Risk FactorsExposure: High
Rockfall Potential: High  
Route-Finding: Moderate  
Commitment: Moderate  
Start12,850 feet
Summit14,268 feet
Total Gain1,650 feet
RT Length5.25 miles
Last UpdatedSep 2023
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This route should only be climbed with consolidated, stable snow, usually in spring or early summer. In mid-winter, many snow routes have frequent risk of avalanche.


A reservation is required to park at Summit Lake and must be purchased through recreation.gov PRIOR to the day of your hike. It's $7. Look for the --Summit Lake Park Only Vehicle Ticket-- on the system. These tickets are based on a 2-Hour entry window that you select; however, the earliest entry window you can select is 8:00-10:00am and you may want to start much earlier, especially if you are hiking more than just the upper West Ridge Route on Blue Sky. Unless the weather is bad and they have to close the road, prior to 8am you'll find the gate open and unstaffed. You still need to have a ticket to drive in early. So, reserve a 8:00-10:00am slot, print it out and display it on your dash when you drive in early and park at Summit Lake.

This is only for parking at Summit Lake. If you want to park at the summit and do some hiking, you'll need to reserve a $17 --Mount Blue Sky+ All Recreation Sites Vehicle Ticket--". All tickets are good for 3 consecutive days, at the same entry window. That probably doesn't do you much good but keep this in mind if your first day gets weathered-out and you'd like to return on one of the next two days.

More Information at the USFS
Take Exit 240 at Idaho Springs on Interstate 70. Drive south on Colorado 103 for 13.5 miles to Echo Lake. Show your reservation and drive 9 miles up the Mt. Blue Sky road (Colorado 5) to the signed Summit Lake parking area.


1 shows the gully at the west end of the lake. From the Summit Lake parking area, hike northwest to the north end of the lake. Turn left and follow a trail that runs southwest along the side of the lake. When the trail starts down to the lake, stay on the hillside and continue straight towards the gully at the end of the basin. If you stay far enough up from the lake, you will not lose any elevation by the time you get to the base of the gully. 2 is the view of the gully from the west side of the lake. In summer, the gully is filled with loose, red/brown debris and some large boulders - 3. There will be a cornice on top and it's obvious that the upper third of the gully is steep - 4.

At 13,000', put on your helmet and begin the ascent. The lower gully contains large boulders that may make your climbing easier. Near 13,400' you are nearing the cornice and the steepest portion of the climb - 5. Stay right and carefully climb to the edge of loose ledges. Stay right of the cornice and climb the final 50 feet. Once you're past the cornice, the slope eases immediately and you hit the saddle just below 13,600'. Mt. Spalding (13,842') is to your right and your route to Blue Sky is left (south).

Turn left and hike south up toward the west end of Blue Sky's West Ridge. There should be cairns and trail segments in this area. Continue toward the initial hump on the ridge and to a notch in the ridge just before the hump. Drop to the right slightly and follow the cairned trail east below the ridge crest. The trail stays below the ridge for most of the remaining hike to the summit. From the hump on the west end of the ridge, it's almost 1 mile to the summit. Hike to the corner of the Mt. Blue Sky road and 100' to the summit. Descend back to Summit Lake via the West Ridge Route, over 13er Mt. Spalding.


Depending on the amount of snow in the gully, expect between 500' and 600' of skiing. 6 looks down on the route from under the cornice.


IMPORTANT: This route enters the Mount Evans Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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