Mountaineering – Horseshoe Mountain (13,898 ft) via Boudoir Couloir

Horseshoe Mountain
Horseshoe Mountain, a Mosquito Range Centennial

Horseshoe Mountain Lake
Beautiful Alpine Lake

Getting Closer to Boudoir Couloir
The Boudoir Couloir!

Smiles at the top of Boudoir Couloir
Snow Climbing is Fun!

Horseshoe Mountain Summit
Doug and I enjoying the summit of Horseshoe Mountain

The Roaches give Horseshoe Mountain’s Boudoir Couloir route a *Classic* rating. This fact, combined with the ease of access to the trailhead, straightforward approach (no stream crossings!), small amount of elevation gain (~2,350 ft!), and mellow angled climbing put this climb at the top of my list. We were looking for a half day’s worth of effort and this climb was perfect!

Also, thanks to Bill Middlebrook, of, for posting a condition report of Horseshoe while out on White Ridge. That report was super helpful!

The Schedule:
Departure from Denver: 4am
Departure from TH: 6:30am
Past the Lake: 7:20am
Start Climbing Boudoir Couloir: 8:10am
Finish Boudoir Couloir: 9:20am
Summit of Horseshoe Mountain: 9:30am
Start Glissade of Boudoir: 10am
Back at the TH:~12pm

Horseshoe Mountain Trailhead
The Trailhead; just off of Fourmile Creek Road (you can see Fourmile in the background).

Horseshoe Mountain Trailhead Snowbank
Doug ready to go

Early Morning Fog Lingers Over Leavick
After about 15 minutes of hiking, we saw the fog dissipate. It was a beautiful morning. For the first time since last fall, I didn’t see my breath!

Horseshoe Mountain 4WD Road
We followed the 4wd road most of the time, but in a few places had to veer off due to snowbanks.

Our Shadows Among Suncups
Artsy shadow picture of myself and Doug. I like the way the skis look in the shadow.

Horseshoe Mountain Approach
According to one of my sources, you are to stay high and head for the base of the brown buttress. However, most of the snow was melted and we were left with tallus slopes. Rather than dealing with those, we skirted down to the left a bit and then up through a gully.

Looking Up At Boudoir
Picture by Doug, of me skirting around some tallus. I’m staring up at Boudoir Couloir and also gaping at the weather. We had really variable weather all day, which was worrisome at time.

Boudoir Couloir
Another look at the route and the tallus. Don’t try climbing through this stuff, it’s unconsolidated, chossy crap. On the way back, I tried to make a bee-line through it and nearly broke my face. One rock crumbled under my foot and another one about the size of a loveseat rolled out from under me.

Entering the Horseshoe Mountain Cirque
Doug ascending to the start of Boudoir Couloir.

Time to Ditch the Gear
The weather looked sketchy, so we decided not to risk an ascent of Mt. Sheridan. We also did not know if we would be able to make the summit, since it looked like it could get worse…So we decided to ditch our gear. By climbing the Boudoir Couloir and tagging the summit of Horseshoe, we could just turn around and glissade if things got bad.

Starting Boudoir Couloir
Looking up at the climb. A section down lower was starting to melt out already. I’m glad we did the route now rather than waiting another weekend!

Weather Over Leavick
Just to show you the bi-polar weather…One minute it was all sunny and the next it was like this!

Checking Altitude on Boudoir Couloir
Getting a handle on our altitude. While I’m climbing Couloirs, or anything steep, it’s helpful to know how much is left!

Secret Couloir on Horseshoe Mountain
Doug says he found a report of guys climbing this steep and hidden couloir. Looks like fun!

The Cliffs of Horseshoe Mountain
Looking up inside the horseshoe! Neato.

Boudoir Couloir Is Squishy
Doug and his new tool. It’s got a retractable blade and it’s a trekking pole. I know what I’m putting on my x-mas list this year!

The Upper Half of Boudoir Couloir
Here I am kicking steps. I led for about 20 minutes of the climb. It felt nice to “contribute”!

Cresting The Top of Boudoir Couloir
Doug about to top out!

Looking Down Boudoir Couloir
Looking down the Boudoir Couloir. I really enjoyed the last 20 minutes of the climb. It was more challenging and steeper than the lower section.

Horseshoe Mountain Shelter
Shelter at the top of Horseshoe Mountain. Not that it would provide much shelter, since one wall is blown off…

Doug Amidst the Mosquito Range
Doug approaching the true summit of Horseshoe Mountain. With Sheridan, Sherman, and White Ridge in the background.

Horseshoe Mountain Elevation via GPS
Summit GPS, it says 13,907 ft! Well within the range of normal error…

Doug Glissading Boudoir Couloir
Doug about to glissade. The glissade would have been a lot more enjoyable had there not been 4 people heading up the couloir! Oh well.

Doug Skiing Down Horseshoe Mountain
Doug Skiing!

Doug Skiing and Scary Weather
More bi-polar weather. There were some scary looking cloud systems on our way back to the car, but luckily nothing bad happened. Back in Denver, there were tornado warnings in 4 different counties!

Overall, I had a great day out in the mountains with Doug. While it wasn’t necessarily challenging, it was just what we needed. It was a half day in the mountains, on a new route, resulting in a successful summit bid.

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