Mount Mahler 12,493'

Braddock Peak from the north.  Photo: Rob Writz

Mount Mahler is poised high above Lake Agnes in the Colorado State Forest State Park. The northeast face of the mountain holds the prized X and Y Couloirs. These chutes and the brilliant rugged aspect above the lake are visible from Colorado State Highway 14 near Cameron Pass. The high quality of the couloirs, combined with the prominent view from the highway, make this mountain a regional classic. Spring and summer ski and snowboard mountaineering abound on Mount Mahler. Bring you ice axe and crampons!

The west side of Mount Mahler is much more moderate and the summit can be gained from a long ski or hike from the valley below Seven Utes Mountain. The south side of the mountain holds numerous couloirs and rugged aspects for further exploration. Never Summer Nordic maintains two small huts near the Lake Agnes Cabin that make for a great basecamp in winter, spring, and summer. 

+ ROUTES

Shared Approach to Base of Couloirs and Snowfield

Use the following approach in the spring when the road is still closed. From Lake Agnes Trailhead, ski down to the Seven Utes snowmobile trail (note the orange markers); take this east and down to the bridge over the Michigan River (0.65 miles from the start). Follow the blue signs south for the Nokhu and Agnes Cabins. When you reach the signed right turn for the Cabins, continue south on the main trail. At approximately 1.76 miles there is a small road departing to the left. [40.493, -105.9005] There is a gate and a sign for authorized vehicles only, and this may be buried in snow. This road will take you up to the Michigan Ditch, and bypass the steep Lake Agnes Trail. You will be exposed to avalanche chutes descending from Nokhu Crags when you join the ditch. Follow the ditch and the steep creek headwall uphill to Lake Agnes (2.86 miles from the trailhead). Ski across the lake if it is frozen, or along the left edge to the south end. Climb the cirque to the base of the couloirs and the snowfield. [40.473, -105.9033] This is about 3 miles from the trailhead.

In the summer you can drive to the Old Agnes Cabin. From here follow the Lake Agnes Trail to the Lake. Walk around the lake and hike up the bowls and moraines to the base of the couloirs.

1 – Lake Agnes Bowl

  • Rating: II* D5
  • Season: Spring, Summer
  • Exposure: North
  • Vertical: 500’, 1270’ to Lake Agnes
  • Approach Elevations: 9,700’ – 11,965’
  • Approach Distance: From Nokhu Hut and Agnes Lake Parking: 3.3 Miles
  • Top of Route Waypoint: [40.4703, -105.9027]

Lake Agnes Bowl is a classic spring and summer ski descent. This moderately angled snowfield is a great alternative to the steep pitches of the X and Y couloirs, and is a good place to learn to snow climb. The angle in the upper snowfield is around 35 degrees. In the spring the snowfield is in the shade of Mount Richthofen and stays cooler than the couloirs for an extra hour. The top of the snowfield is the saddle between Mount Richthofen and Mount Mahler, and it provides outstanding views of the Never Summer Wilderness and the Southern Medicine Bow Mountains. The descent is straightforward. For the snowfield and the X and Y Couloirs, ski the snowfield and follow your approach line out.

2 – X Couloirs

  • Rating: II* D11 – D12
  • Season: Spring, Summer
  • Exposure: North
  • Vertical: 500’
  • Approach Elevations: 9,700’ - 12,080’
  • Approach Distance: From Nokhu Hut and Agnes Lake Parking: 3.2 Miles
  • Base of Route Waypoint: 40.473, -105.9033

The Sharks Teeth are a cluster of jagged points on the ridge rising from the snowfield and west to Mount Mahler. The X Couloirs are the collection of chutes that grace the north face of the Sharks Teeth. These lines in this couloir enclave are short but they pack a punch. Dogleg (2a,D12) is on the far left and can be completely skiable, but several rocks do constrict the upper half after the bend and add to the complexity of this line. The lower portion of the second couloir from the saddle (2b,D11) remains in the shade, but the top faces east and is exposed to the sun early resulting in diverse snow conditions in this chute. The X Couloirs on the looker’s right have several options including the left line whose shape resembles that of a dancer (2c,D11), the center chute (2d, D11), and a narrow east facing couloir (2e,D11) that is part of the main flank of Mount Mahler. The long east facing couloir (2e) is very narrow in the upper middle and has a shallow snow depth above that. All of the lines lead to the base of Lake Agnes Bowl.

3 – Y Couloirs

  • Rating: II* D8, D11
  • Season: Spring, Summer
  • Exposure: Northeast
  • Vertical: 700’
  • Approach Elevations: 9,700’ - 12,265’
  • Approach Distance: From Seven Utes Parking: 3.3 Miles
  • Top of Route Waypoint: 40.4719, -105.9068

The Y Couloirs of Mount Mahler rivals Nokhu Crag’s eastern couloirs in terms of Cameron Pass ski mountaineering stature, tenure, and popularity. These two proud chutes display prominently from the pull offs on Highway 14. Both branches of Y Couloir are big routes on a big mountain, and should be treated with respect. The lower apron that leads to the chutes is a steep prelude leading to the left and right chutes. The left chute (3a,D11) is steep and lined with rock faces on both sides. The right line (3b,D8) is positioned below Mahler’s summit and the ridge dividing the Y Couloirs. The initial turns of the right couloir are steeper than the rating given here. The right couloir can be a reliable climb and ski all the way into the summer. The top of both chutes places you on a small and narrow snow ridge that makes clipping into your bindings a gripping experience in itself. The summit of Mahler can be obtained from the top of the upper, right couloir, but this is not the easiest way to climb the peak. You can execute a steep scramble up the ridge above the cliff-ridden South Face, or a northwest traverse on snow between the summit crags and the cliffs bordering the Y Couloir leads to the gentle north ridge to the summit. Get an early start in the spring as the sun strikes this face just after dawn.

*These are Grade I routes in the summer when the road is open to Agnes Cabin.

+ TRAILHEAD

Nokhu Hut and Agnes Lake Parking (9,700’)

Cameron Pass is about 68 miles from Fort Collins and about 31 miles from Walden on Highway 14. The Nokhu Hut and Agnes Lake Parking is 2.5 miles west of Cameron Pass on Highway 14. The Nokhu Crags are in State Forest State Park, and there is a self-service kiosk at the trailhead to pay the$3 individual day pass to access the state park.

+ MAPS & PICTURES

Below we have included a link to a Google interactive map and a curated list of photos of the mountain.

Clicking on map above will open interactive Google map website

Clicking on map above will open interactive Google map website