Independence Pass

Submitted By: Dobish on May 26, 2011

Administrator: Dobish

Views: 2004 page views

Featured Descent

Colorado » Ten Mile Range

Cristo Couloir

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.

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Details

Independence Pass (Indy Pass to some locals) offers a huge variety of opportunities for a wide range of backcountry skiers because of the terrain options, as well as the countless opportunities for hiking.  The road (highway 82) crests Independence Pass, making it perfect for backcountry skiing with relatively easy access to start out.

How to Get There

Independence Pass Road (Highway 82), can be reached via the town of Aspen (it is 20 miles east of Aspen) or via the East, from Leadville/Highway 24.  There are large signs marking Independence Pass Highway, but please be advised that this road is closed in the winter because of the massive amounts of snow.

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