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Dead Elk Couloir Approach

Intermediate

Trail

0.5 mile 0.8 kilometer point to point
Ascent
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 470' 143 m
Descent: 0' 0 m
High: 11,955' 3,644 m
Low: 11,485' 3,501 m

Grade

Avg Slope: 19% (11°)
Max Slope: 33% (18°)
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Trail shared by Jacob Winey

Avalanche risk for Jul 10, 2019: Unknown

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Full forecast for CAIC: Front Range Zone — Brought to you by CO Avalanche Information Center

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Route to the top of Dead Elk Couloir from Bear Lake.

Jacob Winey
Type: Backcountry or Sidecountry

Description

This longer approach is best done as an early morning approach, and the Dead Elk Couloir is best done as a spring line. The route begins as the Flattop Mt. approach, which you'll follow for about 3 miles before branching south.

In the winter, you can walk straight out of the bear lake parking lot towards flattop without even hiking to the lake. Once you pass the top of Flattop East face, keep going until the incline begins to mellow out. The top of Flattop is often wind-scoured, so be prepared to boot pack.

The two entrances to Dragontail Couloir come up quickly on the left side and can be recognized by one, mellower line entering westward into the couloir and another past that which enters facing east and is much steeper. Another couple hundred yards along the ridge will bring you around a small hill of scree and to the entrance of Dead Elk. The top part of the couloir may be scoured a little bit and there will be a noticeable choke to the couloir as you look down it.

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  3.0 from 1 vote

#308

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Ascent Rankings

#111

in Colorado

#308

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Photos

Approaching the crux of Dragontail, Emerald Lake is far below.
Mar 2, 2018 near Grand Lake, CO
Sam, skiing the first snowfield in Smoke and Dragons
May 19, 2018 near Grand Lake, CO
The traverse to the start of Smoke and Dragons
Jun 1, 2018 near Grand Lake, CO
Booting up the couloir
May 13, 2019 near Grand Lake, CO
The first rappel in Smoke and Dragons
May 19, 2018 near Grand Lake, CO
Keep your wits about you as you approach the rappel.
Mar 23, 2017 near Grand Lake, CO

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