Squaretop: N Couloir

I had heard about this one for a while but it is hard to see from the peaks I frequent. I must have seen it well from Grays summit last year. On May 30, 2008, Michele Koss, Todd Beck, Eric Penicka, Brian Howard, and I left a car at the Naylor Lake TH and carried on to Guanella Pass for the easy climb to Squaretop's 13794-foot summit. There was lots of walking as the slopes up high were quite bare. But from the summit we spotted our line nicely fat with snow and it looked like we'd be able to ski back to the lower car, 1000 feet below the pass. Indeed, it was all good. Corn conditions were perfect and the lakes in the valley very beautiful. And one can see just about all peaks in Summit County from Silverheels and Democrat to Powell and Eagles Nest We were indeed able to ski back to the car with only two 20-yard walking sections. I wouldn't try this much later in the year, though the snow in the couloir will be adequate for a couple more weeks.

And, yes, this peak's summit is entirely east of the Continental Divide and so is not in Summit County. But you can see it so well from the County that I'll list it here. Moreover, it is quite cool to see it from Silverthorne or Frisco because it means one is looking completely over the Continental Divide to a peak entirely on the Atlantic side.

The first two pictures show Todd Beck and Michele Koss enjoying the fine conditions, Grays and Torreys in the background.



The view back to the ski slope.


And a nice view of the entire N face of Squaretop taken from an ascent of Argentine, May 28, 2009. The ski line is the one with the small cornice right of center.


On June 3, 2011, Chet Roe, Dave Blakeslee, and I skied this line again. It had more snow that the 2008 time, but the snow was much firmer and rather difficult to ski. The upside was that we could easily ski all the way back to the low trailhead without ever removing skis. On June 5, 2013, I got the following shot of Squaretop’s north face from the summit of Wilcox. This shows the main line lookers right (with the rock island), another possible good line in the center, and Silver Dollar and Murray Lakes below.


And on June 1, 2014, Chet Roe, Jonathan Kriegel, and I skied it. The climb was a mixture of carrying and skinning, with a skin along the last bit to the summit. The descent was fine, with snow all the way back to the car. Here is the main gully, with Chet in the center and Jonathan choosing the face on the right. Of course, the steepness disappears in such a photo.


Here is a view of the east side of Squaretop, that one ascends from Guanella Pass. This was June 6, 2015, a day that we skied up Bierstadt. While some parties climb the ridge at right, I have always ascended this by going around to the left. Of course, this side provides good skiing as well, though not as spectacular as the north couloir.


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