Mount Evans 14,265'
Mount Evans is one of the centers of spring ski mountaineering on the Front Range. The opening of the Mount Evans Road on Memorial Day signals quick and easy access to the high terrain of the Mount Evans Massif. The peak itself is the fifteenth highest peak in Colorado, but it is humbled by the paved road that leads to the summit. This road can be a distraction as there are numerous tourists at the summit. The road is a blessing to ski mountaineers and the easy access bypasses what would be a massive approach from Echo Lake and points east. Enjoy the quick access to the high terrain, but remember that you are still at 14,000’ so take care of yourself up here.
1, 2, 3, 4 – North Face
- Rating: II, D7
- Season: Spring, Summer
- Exposure: North
- Vertical: 700' - 1,000'
- Approach Elevations: 12,850' - 14,265'
- Approach Distance: From Summit Lake TH: 1 mile
Shared approach to the bowl at 13,280’
There are numerous climbs and ski descents possible in the half mile wide span of Mount Evan's North Face and Summit Lake Bowl. They are all easily accessed from the Summit Lake Trailhead, and with the right conditions you may be able to climb and ski several lines, or combine these routes with an earlier ascent and descent on Mount Spalding's Southeast Bowl.
From the Summit Lake Trailhead walk south on the Mount Evans Road continuing up the road on its path to the summit. Cross the Bear Creek outlet of Summit Lake and then leave the road to your right (west). Climb about 450 vertical feet and 0.45 miles over the large slope that is between you and a small bowl below the North Face. Depending on the amount of snow you may be able to skin to this bowl at the bottom of the North Face Routes.
1 - North Face Steep (I D12)
When you have reached the bowl at 13,280’ began trending up and left into the complex chutes below the summit of Evans. Climb up on consistent snow, but aiming for the chute that directly connects to the snow ledge that cuts horizontally across the vertical cliffs of Mount Evans. Climb this narrow and steep chute to the intersection with the snow ledge. Traverse right on the flat ledge and then trend up on easier snow and talus to the ridge leading to the summit of Evans. You can scramble another 500’ (Class 2) from here to the often dry and rocky summit.
2- North Face Moderate (I D8)
This is the classic route on the North Face, aka the “North Chutes”. From the bowl at 13,280’ described in the shared approach, climb southwest into the easiest and widest slope on the North Face. This slope reaches the 14,150' saddle between the summit of Evans (to the climber's left) and Point 14,256'. The upper edge of the snowfield is often a talus field that you will have to stumble up to get to the saddle. To get to the summit of Mount Evans hike and scramble (Class 2) a fifth of a mile east. A ski descent from the summit to any line on the North Face is rare, so scramble back down to the saddle if needed. This ski descent is a classic route and a great place for ski mountaineers who want a high mountain experience but not in a steep and narrow couloir.
3- Diamond Couloir (I D6)
The Diamond Couloir is a great line that hides behind the large buttress that flanks the west side of the North Face. This cooler connects the Apron Bowl to a rock scramble that leads to Mount Evan's West Ridge. This scramble is more committing than the tops of the North Face routes. The northwest aspect of this couloir delays the sun strike in the upper part of the chute. Follow the shared approach described above to the bowl at 13,280’. Ski or hike west and past the large rock buttress that is west of the North Face. This buttress forms the climber's left of the Diamond Couloir. Climb the Diamond Couloir to where the snow ends. From this point you can ski down to Summit Lake or continue to the West Ridge of Mount Evans. It is a 3rd and 4th class scramble for several hundred vertical feet to the ridge, and then 0.3 miles of Class 2 hiking to the summit of Evans.
4– Apron Bowl (I D4)
The Apron Bowl is a large northeast facing snowfield that is just west of the Diamond Couloir, and looker’s left of the three rock buttresses called the Aprons. This moderate snowfield can be a great combination with the Diamond or the routes on Mount Spalding. Consider climbing and skiing the east facing routes on Spalding and then adding Apron Bowl or Diamond as an additional adventure. Follow the directions stated above for Diamond and trend right into the Apron Bowl.
Summit Lake Trailhead (12,850’)
To reach the Summit Lake Trailhead, drive 9.5 miles from Echo Lake on the Mount Evans Road (Highway 5) to Summit Lake. Echo Lake is on Highway 103 and 12.7 miles from Exit 240 on Interstate 70 in Idaho Springs and 18.9 miles from Bergen Park. Park at this trailhead to access the Summit Lake Bowl and North Face routes of Mount Evans.
The Mount Evans Road is closed in the fall, winter, and spring and is normally open Memorial Day to early October. The road to Summit Lake may be open earlier and close later than the final stretch to the summit. The actual opening date varies each year due to snowfall and the amount of effort that it takes to clear the snow. When the road is open for the season, the hours of operation are 8 am to 6:30 pm. Daily openings may be delayed due to ice on the road. The US Forest Service manages the entrance to the road, and charges $10 per vehicle. For more information on Mount Evans Road, visit the website.