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Missouri Mountain
snow North Face Couloirs
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Difficulty:
 Difficult Class 2 
Snow Steepness: Moderate  
Ski/Board: Advanced, D8 / R3 / II  
Risk Factors:Exposure: Considerable
Rockfall Potential: Moderate  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: Considerable  
 
Trailhead:Missouri Gulch
Start:9,650 feet
Summit:14,067 feet
Total Gain:4,500 feet
RT Length:9.00 miles
Duration:User Climb Times
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Updated:6/2019
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:257 reports
Cell Signal:12 reports
Sheriff:Chaffee: 719-539-2596
Forest:San Isabel
Wilderness:Collegiate Peaks
Quad. Maps:Log In to View
Camping:On Google Maps
Eats:On Google Maps
Downloads:Log In to Download
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Trailhead

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.

Route

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.

Skiing?

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.

Notes

This route is only recommended with snow. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Collegiate Peaks 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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