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Mount Blue Sky

snow North Face Moderate
Difficulty Class 3 
Snow Steepness: Moderate 
Ski/Board: Advanced, D8 / R3 / I  
Risk FactorsExposure: Considerable
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Low  
Commitment: Moderate  
Start12,850 feet
Summit14,268 feet
Total Gain1,500 feet
RT Length2 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.


This is the best ski route on Blue Sky's north face. Crampons are very helpful between 13,400' and the top of the snow below the summit ridge. 1 shows most of the route seen from the parking area near Summit Lake. In the photo you can see that you must ascend a bench that rises up in the east end of the Summit Lake bowl.

Walk out onto the Mt. Blue Sky road, turn right, and follow the road. After a short distance, the road crosses the east drainage of Summit Lake. Leave the road on the right side and walk across grass and rocks until you reach the base of the slope. Your immediate goal is to ascend the slope up to the small bowl below the north face. Climb 470' of elevation and 1/3 mile up to the top of this slope at 13,300'. You now have an unobstructed view of the north face. The summit is up to your left, but this route climbs the snow in the easiest portion of the north face. 2 shows the view from here.

Take your time and pick your line up through the snow. I found it easiest (and safest) to start on the left side, and cross into the rocks near the center and then follow the rocks up through the center of the snow. Descend into the small bowl, pass the tiny lake, and begin your ascent up across boulders toward the left side of the snow field. From the tiny lake, you must climb approximately 780' of elevation to reach the summit ridge. Carefully climb up the snow as you aim for the top of the snow the ends below the lowest part of the ridge above. As you near 13,900', the snow field starts to narrow below the lowest portion of the ridge above - 4. Climb straight up to reach the top of the snow between 13,900' and the ridge (above 14,100').

Turn left and hike 0.13 miles along the summit ridge to reach the summit. 5 looks back along the ridge. If you're hiking, descend back to Summit Lake via the West Ridge, over 13er Mt. Spalding.


If you brought your skis, snap in near the top of the face. 3 looks down on the route from 14,000'. Repeat if necessary.


This route is best done with stable spring snow. Helmet, crampons and an axe are required. 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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