As winter’s powder metamorphoses into névé and melt-freeze ice from April though mid-June, couloir and chimney routes in the high mountains come into prime condition. Jack Roberts in Boulder is the author of the Colorado Ice guidebook and is one of Colorado’s most experienced mountain guides. We asked him for his five favorite spring alpine routes, all of which happened to be in Rocky Mountain National Park.
• Dreamweaver. For me, Dreamweaver on Mt. Meeker is the perfect high-mountain couloir route. The steep hike to it usually takes three hours. The climbing in the couloir isn’t difficult, but you still need to pay attention. Exposure is constant but never overwhelming. Once you complete the climb, you can either go home or link it up with Martha on Mt. Lady Washington or the Notch Couloir on Longs. Which is also the beauty of Dreamweaver. You can ascend it and enjoy it for its own merit or you can push your luck.
• Hallett Chimney. An ultimate classic. Forget the fact that it doesn’t always come into the perfect condition that you want for an intermediate mixed alpine route. Forget for a second that the climbing isn’t really very technically demanding. That it is a climb that requires skill and cunning rather than the brute strength and power developed on a campus board. Success on this climb is more dependent on the ability of the experienced leader to figure out how to tread gently on snow/ice and rock when conditions are less than ideal and protection is not always exactly where you would like it to be. But the length of the climb (1,000 feet) comfortable belays, interesting climbing positions, and total alpine feel make this one of the top five alpine routes to do in RMNP. … Continue Reading