Mount Spalding 13,842'
Mount Spalding is Mount Evan's little brother residing to the north of Summit Lake. The mountain is a high thirteener, and one of the highest on the Front Range. The broad west and north slopes give way to the steep Southeast Face and even steeper northeast-facing defile above the Chicago Lakes Basin. The Southeast Face is easily accessible from the Summit Lake Trailhead and many mountaineers ski these lines and then move to the shadier routes on Mount Evans' North Face in the late morning. The Northeast Cirque above the Chicago Lakes is shared with Gray Wolf Mountain and forms one of the densest collections of couloirs on the Front Range. You should get yourself to Mount Spalding as there are numerous ski mountaineering adventures to be had on this peak.
1 - Sunrise Couloir and Southeast Face
- Rating: I D15
- Season: Spring, Summer
- Exposure: East, Southeast
- Vertical: 600', 800'
- Approach Elevations: 12,850' - 13,842'
- Approach Distance: From Summit Lake TH: 1 mile
The southeast facing bowl above Summit Lake holds several interesting and steep routes. The Sunrise Couloir of Spalding, sometimes called the West Gully of Mount Evans, stares you in the face from the Summit Lake Trailhead. The steep Southeast Face holds many potential lines, and a compelling route climbs from Summit Lake directly to the summit of Spalding. All of the routes on this face have sustained exposure to large cornices and as a result are difficult to exit. The Sunrise Couloir and Southeast Face both begin warming with the sun's light immediately at dawn. Size up these routes from the comfort of your car at the Summit Lake Trailhead.
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). Follow the south side of Summit Lake 0.8 miles to the base of each route. Stay on as snow or the frozen lake to avoid high alpine damage and erosion.
1a - Sunrise Couloir (D15): This is a popular mountaineering climb and ski descent that is skiable in the late spring all the way into the summer. The climb is very steep, and a large cornice guards the entire top of the wide chute. The paths of least resistance through the cornice are on the far left and far right. Be prepared for a vertical exit.
1b - Southeast Face (D15): There is a direct climb and ski descent from the base of the Sunrise Couloir to the summit of Mount Spalding. This line is longer than the Sunrise Couloir, but with similar complexities. The thermal heating begins right at dawn as there is no obstructions between the horizon of the Great Plains and this face. The top is rimmed with a steep and overhanging cornice. You may have to dig through portions of it to access the summit, or build a ledge below it to strap on your skis for the descent
Summit Lake Trailhead (12,850’)
Trailheads don't get any closer to routes than this one. Well, maybe. The top of the Mount Evans Road, Pikes Peak Road, and Trail Ridge Road can get you even closer to high Front Range ski routes. The advantage that Summit Lake Trailhead provides is that not only is it close to the routes on the Southeast Bowl of Spalding, but you also get to look right at your routes as you get your gear ready.
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.
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.