Submitted By: Randonee_Urban on September 01, 2010
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Cristo is a fairly wide snow gully, and is not particularly technical to ski. That said, it is steep enough to demand advanced ski abilities.
Cristo is rated D8 or D9 depending on snow conditions. For information on the D rating system, see here: http://www.wildsnow.com/articles/ratings/ski-board-d-rating-system.html
In good snow conditions, Cristo can be skied right off the summit. Depending on snowpack, there may or may not be a few rocky patches to navigate. The gully has a few rollovers, the steepest reaching 40-45 degrees. The slope has a double fall-line, and is generally a bit mellower if you stay towards the skier's right side. While not a true no-fall zone, the double fall-line nature also means that a sliding fall in the couloir could be dangerous.
Cristo Couloir is a very large avalanche path and has claimed it's share of victims. As such, this route is recommended as a spring descent in times of good stability only. Also, whether you're driving or skinning up Blue Lakes Road, be aware that several major avalanche paths threaten the road near the dam.[more]
The Terrain Park is an RMNP classic area for mid-winter backcountry skiers looking for sparse crowds, pillow lines, and, most importantly, DEEP powder. This area is also used by the Colorado Mountain School for Avalanche 1 classes, so make sure you 're on your Avy Game because you never know who will be asking you about current conditions!
The constant winds of RMNP pick up snow from Longs Peak all the way to Chaos Canyon, where the trees near Lake Haiyaha and Dream Lake strain out the wind, depositing the soft, cushy snow in the north-facing Dream Chutes and in the East Facing Terrain Park runs such as Mario Gully and others.
After a few storms, this is easily some of the best short-lap powder skiing terrain on the Front Range.
How to Get There
Park at Bear Lake Trailhead (Plowed year-round) and hike to Nymph Lake. Continue towards Dream Lake, but take a left (south) just before the actual Dream Lake onto the Lake Haiyaha trail (look for a sign poking out of the snow). From here, ascend the switchbacks through the trees and on top of the large cliffs until you will find your self before an exposed, steep slope. You can either continue up the ridge (west) to the Dream Lake Chutes, or traverse across the ridge (south) to the east facing runs.