Missouri Mountain

snow North Face Couloirs
Difficulty Difficult Class 2 
Snow Steepness: Moderate 
Ski/Board: Advanced, D8 / R3 / II  
Risk FactorsExposure: Considerable
Rockfall Potential: Moderate  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: Considerable  
Start9,650 feet
Summit14,071 feet
Total Gain4,500 feet
RT Length9.00 miles
SheriffChaffee: 719-539-2596
Last UpdatedOct 2022
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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.


From Leadville: Drive 20 miles south on U.S. 24 and turn right on the Chaffee County 390 road.
From Buena Vista: Drive 14.5 miles north on U.S. 24 and turn left on the Chaffee County 390 road.
On the 390 road, drive 7.5 miles to a sign for the Missouri Gulch trailhead. Turn left and drive down into the large parking area. There are restrooms here.


Missouri's north face has several good couloirs that provide excellent snow climbs and ski/board descents - 1 and 2. From the parking area, start down the Missouri Gulch Trail, cross the bridge that spans Clear Creek and continue into the forest. Hike over 1/4 mile and climb a bunch of switchbacks up through the forest. Leave the switchbacks at 10,400' and continue south along Missouri Gulch. At 10,800', turn left and cross to the east side of Missouri Gulch on a make shift log bridge. Hike south along the gulch for 1/3 mile until you reach the remnants of an old shack, near 11,200'. Leave the trees and continue up Missouri Gulch to see Mt. Belford and Missouri Mountain - 3.

Pass the turn-off area for Mt. Belford and continue south up the gulch. Once you get above 12,000', Missouri's north face becomes more obvious as you approach the end of the basin - 5 and 6. The north face can look a bit confusing because the summit is difficult to distinguish from this area. Before climbing to the north face, study it to identify your intended route - 7. Most climbers ascend either the main/direct couloir or the easier "C" Couloir, to the right.

At 12,800', turn right and climb a short slope that leads to a bowl below the north face - 8. Enter the gentle bowl and hike over to the base of the north face couloirs - 9. The remainder of this route description will use the main/direct couloir - 10. Climb steepening terrain to reach the entrance of the main couloir near 13,400' - 11. Begin climbing - 12 and 13. Near 13,600', reach a right turn that is usually the most dangerous part of the climb because you're in or along the main fall line - 14. After the turn, the remainder of the couloir comes into view - 15. Climb 350+ feet southwest on slightly easier terrain - 16 and 17. Once you hit the summit ridge, turn left and walk to the top - 18 and 19.


The north face couloirs attract plenty of skiers each year but plan ahead so there's no confusion when you get there. While there are many ski options ( 7), most skiers descend either the main couloir or "C" Couloir.


This route is only recommended with snow.
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16 #17 #18 #19

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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.

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