Mount Blue Sky

snow North Face Steep
Difficulty Class 3 
Snow Steepness: Steep 
Ski/Board: Extreme, D12 / R3 / I  
Risk FactorsExposure: High
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Moderate  
Commitment: Moderate  
Start12,850 feet
Summit14,268 feet
Total Gain1,500 feet
RT Length2.00 miles
Last UpdatedSep 2023
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This route should only be climbed with consolidated snow, in spring or early summer. Climbing this route in mid-winter could put you in deadly avalanche conditions.


A reservation is required to park at Summit Lake and must be purchased through 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 one of the best snow routes on Mt. Blue Sky but should only be climbed when it has full snow coverage. From Summit Lake, the summit and north face are clearly visible to the south - 1. The route ascends through complicated terrain, so take some time to study the face and locate the couloir on the left side of this face - 2. It ascends this steep couloir to reach a "shelf" which provides access to the summit ridge.

From the parking area, walk south to the east end of Summit Lake - 3. Leave the road and hike southwest to the base of a broad slope. Climb 500' up this slope ( 4) to reach a small bowl below the North Face - 5. Again, study the terrain ahead so you know the exact location of the couloir - 6. If you haven't already turned on your beacon and strapped on the crampons, this is a good place to do it. Bypass the bowl on the left and then traverse right toward the north face - 7. After passing beneath cliffs and rocks, turn left and begin climbing steeper terrain below the entrance to the couloir - 8. Continue above 13,700' to reach the more-defined couloir - 9.

Above 13,800', the couloir narrows and there are rocks towering over each side - 10. Keep climbing toward what appears to be a dead-end above - 11. At the top of the couloir, the terrain opens up a bit and becomes a bit steeper - 12. Turn right and climb steep snow to reach the exit and easier terrain - 13 and 14. Move to the right a bit more, turn left, and continue up to a saddle on the summit ridge - 15, 16 and 17. Turn left (east), walk over to the summit trail and ascend the final 100 feet to reach the summit - 18. If you're hiking, you can return to Summit Lake via the West Ridge route, over 13er Mt. Spalding.


This route provides the best opportunity for steep, continuous snow from the summit to Summit Lake. Return to the saddle and work your way back to the top of the main couloir - 19. The entry is the steepest portion of the ski and a fall here would be undesirable - 21. Skiing the couloir - 22. After exiting the couloir, the terrain opens up for some wider turns above the upper bowl - 23, 24 and 25. Return to Summit Lake - 26.


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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Caution: The information contained in this route description may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this route description provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the route description author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

Please respect private property: supports the rights of private landowners to determine how and by whom their land will be used. In Colorado, it is your responsibility to determine if land is private and to obtain the appropriate permission before entering the property.
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