Since Brian and I needed to be home early for our kids sporting events, we needed a quick alpine objective. Kevin and Jeff also wanted to get out, so we decided on an aesthetic couloir on the east face of James Peak. I had climbed Superstar Couloir three years ago which is on the same face, so in order to leave the rack and rope at home to move faster and also to get all of us a new route, we decided to head up Shooting Star Couloir.
We left the trailhead at 4:00, and the approach from the parking lot to St. Marys Glacier went quickly in the dark. The hike up the glacier was also relatively quick, but the plateau to the east of James Peak is larger than one thinks and it took a while to reach the mountain's east shoulder. At this point, we put our crampons on and made a traverse northwest towards the basin below the east face. The snow conditions were perfect. We adjusted our layering at the base of the couloir and began the climb. Shooting Star Couloir starts up the same line as Superstar Couloir and then turns sharply left after a couple of hundred feet. The climb continues diagonally across the face and ends abruptly only a short distance from the summit.
We topped out at around 7:10, took a few photos, had a quick snack, and geared down for the descent down the standard route. The snow was generally too hard to glissade, but Jeff brought his shovel and rode it part way down the mountain. The hike out went quickly, and we were back at the trailhead by 9:00. After a short drive back to Denver, Colorado, we parted ways with over half the day still ahead of us. Shooting Star Couloir is a worthy climb with an easy approach and a short drive from the metro area.