Russian Couloir
(Mt Lincoln)

8 May 2004 - by Tim Holden

Two of us from Boulder headed out Saturday morning to climb the Russian Couloir on Mt. Lincoln (14,286 ft) just south of Breckenridge, Colorado (Mosquito Range). We arrived at the Rogers Road TH later than hoped - about 7:20 - following the directions in Dawson's guidebook (no problem), and parked about a half mile up the jeep trail where it was blocked by snow. The hike to the base of the couloir was intermittent snow and dry ground, but didn't require snowshoes. The couloir itself, just over 1,000 ft. from bottom to top, looked to be on the verge of melting out. It is south facing, but even so...this is a pretty bad snow year.

It was about an hour from the car to the base of the climb; we weren't running by any means (first real climb of the season), but we were moving with purpose. After a food break at the small lake at the bottom, we put on the crampons, and headed up. Eyeballing it, I'd say the slope was 35-40 degrees most of the way up. There was already a short gap melted out, about 15 feet of scree (really verglas, since it was still in the shade). Toward the top you are presented with three options: cut left into the big snow field (easiest?), go straight up the couloir (moderate), or cut right up the narrow(!) branch (hardest). The right branch probably reached 70 degrees, sustained, and exits at the exact summit. We took the main couloir. The last rock buttress decided to shed some bowling ball sized rocks about 20 feet in front of me: definitely wear a helmet on this one. The snow was getting soft, and the final near vertical wall, where the cornice had long since sheared off, was a bit dicey unroped. My partner, about 100 feet back decided he didn't like the avalanche conditions in the warm upper couloir, and so exited onto the nasty rotten crumbly rock on the left. Not recommended. Topped out about 50 feet west of the actual summit at 3 hours almost exactly.

We glissaded from the Lincoln-Cameron saddle and hiked out; 4.5 hours round trip without really trying (but without much post-holing either).

Overall a very nice climb. No rope needed if you are comfortable on moderate snow. Go early: in the day and in the season. You might bring a second tool. We would have enjoyed it more with better snow.

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