North Star Mountain
Polaris Couloir
 Class 3 
Snow Steepness: Steep  
Trailhead:Blue Lakes
Start:11,700 feet
Summit:13,614 feet
Total Gain:2,000 feet
RT Length:4.0 miles
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:65 reports
Cell Signal:1 report
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? (WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. All 14er routes are more difficult and more dangerous in winter.


From Breckenridge, drive 8 miles south on Colorado 9. On a sharp corner of Colorado 9, turn west onto the 850 road (Blue Lakes road). It is 2 miles to the trailhead below the dam. Continue on Blue Lakes road as it climbs west. After 1.2 miles, keep right. After 1.4 miles, keep right again. By early June, the road is usually open to the dam. If not, drive as far as possible and hike the remainder of the road. There is a large parking area below the dam.


From the dam parking area, walk up to the right (north) end of the dam and begin hiking west along the north shore of the upper lake - 1. Continue west for 1 mile ( 2) until you reach ~12,100' in the basin where you can see Polaris up to your left - 3. The couloir is easy to identify once you locate the large, round rock feature at its base - 4. Taken from slightly higher in the basin, 5 and 6 provide a better look at the entire couloir. Even from that angle, it's difficult to identify the summit because the couloir forks at the top, providing two different options to reach the summit.

Turn left and ascend the apron to reach that rock feature at the base of the couloir - 7 and 8. From here, the pitch increases dramatically. Enter the obvious line and climb 600' of steep snow - 9, 10 and 11. Above 13,200' the angle eases and the terrain opens up but there's no clear line to the summit - 12. Your options are 1) to angle up to the left on more open terrain or 2) stay right and take a narrow chute to reach North Star's west ridge, approx. 100 yards from the summit. Option #1 is a more direct line to the summit and the one indicated in photos and maps on this route description. Using either option, reach easier terrain near the top and walk southeast to reach the true summit.


Before you decide to ski/ride this line, you should know that it's pretty steep and firm snow conditions would absolutely make it a no-fall line. The couloir averages approximately 43 degrees but does come close to 50 degrees about 1/2 way up.
Just below the summit: 16
Dropping into Polaris: 17 and 18
The good stuff: 19, 20 and 21
Looking south at the line: 22


#1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16 #17 #18 #19 #20 #21 #22

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