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Dead Elk Couloir

Extremely Difficult
  4.7 ( 3 ) Favorite


0.5 mile 0.8 kilometer point to point
Ski Line
Extremely Difficult


Ascent: 0' 0 m
Descent: -1,726' -526 m
High: 11,896' 3,626 m
Low: 10,170' 3,100 m


Avg Slope: 64% (32°)
Max Slope: 88% (41°)
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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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A steep ski descent with a mandatory rappel or down-climb near the top of the route.

Jacob Winey
Type: Backcountry or Sidecountry

Need to Know

Bring rope and rappel gear. There's a chance that there will be enough snow to down-climb the crux, but don't take that chance, that's how accidents happen.


Dead Elk Couloir starts off on a 45+ degree slope in a no-fall zone, watch your slough due to the exposed nature of the top part of this route. This goes for only a couple hundred feet before the walls choke at small cliff or down-climb. We had heard that there were rappel anchors here in the past, however we didn't find any and ended up using a rock in the middle of the down-climb as a rappel anchor. (If anyone feels like putting a new anchor in at this crux, that would be very appreciated).

After the rappel, you can expect to enjoy about a thousand feet of beautiful, technical couloir skiing before opening up on Tyndall Glacier next to the mouth of Dragontail Couloir.

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May 18, 2013
Jared Brin

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 3 votes


  4.7 from 3 votes
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Extremely Difficult



Getting closer to the bottom of Smoke and Dragons; here's one of the spots where you really need to stay left.
May 19, 2018 near Grand Lake, CO
Sam, skiing the first snowfield in Smoke and Dragons
May 19, 2018 near Grand Lake, CO
Marking the location of Smoke and Dragons relative to Dead Elk and Dragon Tail
May 19, 2018 near Grand Lake, CO
Skiing down the bottom part of Dead Elk.
Apr 6, 2016 near Grand Lake, CO
Looking up Dead Elk (left) and Dragontail (right). April 2015.
May 2, 2015 near Grand Lake, CO
The traverse to the start of Smoke and Dragons
Jun 1, 2018 near Grand Lake, CO

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