• Date - 06/07/2020
  • Elevation - 13,943'
  • Route - Pearl Couloir
  • Miles - 9.0
  • Elevation Gain - 4,063'
  • ACME Mapper - Link
  • CalTopo - Link
  • Partners - Brian Kooienga


Brian and I continued our quest to climb the 100 highest peaks in Colorado.  This particular day, we climbed the Pearl Couloir of Cathedral Peak, a Colorado Centennial Peak ranked 62nd tallest in the state.  We descended the standard south ridge route and made the trip car-to-car in 7 hours and 5 minutes.  Once in the couloir, I ended up having a high gravity day and slowing us down quite a bit.  Nevertheless, Brian was patient with me and we ended up having a moderately descent day for two guys in their late forties.

We left Denver, Colorado, on Saturday evening around 4:30 pm and made our way up the I-70 corridor.  On our way to the Cathedral Peak Trailhead, we made a few stops to break up the drive.  First we went to Edwards, Colorado, to visit Gore Range Brewery.  Then we hit 7 Hermits Brewing, Eagle, Colorado.  After getting through Glenwood Canyon, we visited Ball Brewing in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  We finished our evening at Castle Creek Brewing, Basalt, Colorado, where we had some fairly authentic Canadian poutine.  We made it to the Cathedral Peak Trailhead around 10:45 pm and went to bed quickly.

The alarm rang relatively early and we were hiking around 5:00 am.  The trail is fairly steep and sustained from the trailhead all the way to Cathedral Lake gaining approximately 2,000' in 3.2 miles.  We actually didn't go to Cathedral Lake and angled northwest towards Electric Pass before traversing to the base of the Pearl Couloir.  We geared up to firm snow conditions with kicked steps not penetrating very deeply.  Brian led the way and then waited for me on a rock bench about half way up the couloir where the route dog-legs right.  We took a quick break where I checked my blood sugar level and hydrated.

Brian cruised up the remaining portion of the snow climb to the enormous cornice and waited for me.  I was struggling to perform and slowed quite a bit.  Too many beers the day before, a poor night's sleep, and moderately elevated blood sugar levels all contributed to my weak day.  We topped out on the snow climb after four hours of hiking and were on the summit approximately 20 minutes later after a fun scramble to the top.

I felt poorly, so I was more interested in descending than enjoying the beautiful views and weather.  We dropped down the south ridge quickly and found ourselves on the the saddle of the standard route.  We had to down climb face in without crampons for a good portion of this couloir.  The snow was softer and steps could be kicked deeper than on the ascent of the Pearl Couloir.  Brian led us to the standard descent trail and we hiked out quickly passing many day-hikers presumably heading to Cathedral Lake.  We stopped at Bonfire Brewing in Eagle, Colorado, for a couple hours before returning to the Denver Metro Area.

James on the trail approach.Views on the approach.Brian heading towards the Pearl Couloir.Brian confident in our progress.James heading towards the Pearl Couloir.Brian on the apron of the Pearl Couloir.Brian heading up the first half or the Pearl Couloir.

James starting up the Pearl Couloir.Brian on a rock bench about half way up the snow climb.Brian climbing in the Pearl Couloir.Brian beneath the large cornice at the top of the climb.James working his way up the snow climb.James nearing the base of the cornice.James nearing the summit of Cathedral Peak.Brian celebrating another tick off the list.Brian and James on the summit of Cathedral Peak.Cathedral Lake from Cathedral Peak.Brian down-climbing the standard route.Brian with the standard route in the background.Brian hiking above Cathedral Lake.James descending the standard route.James trying to survive the day.