Valhalla: Heavenly Couloir

The E side of Valhalla surrounds a gorgeous basin and the couloir holds snow well into the summer. Getting there is difficult, however. On June 22, 2011, Jonathan Kriegel and I started in Vail, went to Deluge Lake and climbed the SW face and ridge to gain the summit in a rather lengthy seven hours. But then the face was too soft for safe skiing. My first turn cut a large wet snow slide that ran all the way to the bottom. So we descended a bit on safe ground to the first saddle and then skied the bed surface, which skied rather well, though there was continual sluffing. A memorable day. The bushwhack out to my wife, who was patiently waiting at Rock Creek was a chore. 12 hours total, 6000 feet of climb.

A view of the line taken from near Loki Tower in mid-summer (July 17, 2010).


The first look down. Intimidating. The ridge on left is Asgard Ridge, and the snow in the distance marks our way out, which went fine, for a while.


At the top we had some problems, as the snow was wet and unstable:


But we got down safely and the skiing was actually fun.


In this view of Valhalla, the ski line, which the map indicates holds permanent snow, is on left. The ridge on the right is called Asgard Ridge, and the spire on the left is Loki Tower, first climbed by Elke Dratch and me in July 2010. The spire on the right, which is on the main ridge from Valhalla to Grand Traverse, is called Point Odin.


The route out was a pain, as the woods were very difficult. This marsh and creek crossing seemed pleasurable by comparison. A few minutes after crossing we are at the Rock Creek Road and celebrating the transition to easy travel at last.


A view from June 25, 2013, when we climbed a previously unclimbed rock tower (Thor) on the ridge. On that day we found a good route into and out of this wonderful area: take the Gore Range Trail south until it flattens or just before. Then just head for the top of the ridge, which takes one to the large grassy meadows on the northeast ridge (Asgard Ridge, right edge of picture below). From there it is a small descent to the bowl below the NE face of Valhalla.


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