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The Hourglass Couloir 

M4 Mod. Snow

Type:  Mixed, Snow, Alpine, 6 pitches, 1200', Grade III
Consensus: M4 [details]
FA: Harry Kent
Season: Spring
Page Views: 8,847
Submitted By: Chris Sheridan on Apr 10, 2006

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Eric taking a turn kicking the steps to the base o...


The Hourglass Couloir is an excellent alpine route similar in nature to Dreamweaver but with more sustain difficulties, a bit harder cruxes and a more remote setting. The route involves about six long pitches of roped climbing through gullies and around chockstones.


The route is an obvious gully in the middle of the north face of Arrowhead Peak directly above Solitude Lake. Descend the South-East gully to Black Lake (may require some rappels) or climb west to the low point of the ridge between Arrowhead and McHenry's, the drop down and right back to the Solitude Lake cirque (I haven't tried this descent, but in hindsight it seems to be the best).


A standard mixed rack works fine.

Photos of The Hourglass Couloir Slideshow Add Photo
Chris Sheridan about to get pummeled by spindrift on the first pitch of Hourglass Couloir on 4/8/06.  There was no ice on the route this early in spring, but we had a blast anyway.
Chris Sheridan about to get pummeled by spindrift ...
And another photo showing the chimney systems right of Hourglass Couloir more clearly.
BETA PHOTO: And another photo showing the chimney systems righ...
Possibly the correct NFace descent is seen in center of pic.
Possibly the correct NFace descent is seen in cent...
Eric starting up the third pitch of The Hourglass Couloir on 4/8/06.
Eric starting up the third pitch of The Hourglass ...
The top of the ice pitch is seen in the distance.
BETA PHOTO: The top of the ice pitch is seen in the distance.
Chris setting up the rappel in the Southeast Gully of Arrowhead.  If anyone cleans that stopper and pin, I'd be glad to have it back.
Chris setting up the rappel in the Southeast Gully...
The Hourglass Couloir.
BETA PHOTO: The Hourglass Couloir.
Narrow slot in center of pic shows wedge chock stone pitch.
Narrow slot in center of pic shows wedge chock sto...

Comments on The Hourglass Couloir Add Comment
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By Dougald MacDonald
Apr 12, 2006

Definitely a great route, likely better and perhaps harder later in the year. (Like when we did it in May.) There's a chockstone on the first technical pitch that felt harder than M4 to me (it might be harder with less snow). Higher (4th pitch?) there was a classic short ice and mixed pitch: a runnel in the back of a chimney, which you exited by hand (tool) traversing across a flake at the top. Easy but fantastic! Don't underestimate the approach: It takes a long time to wallow up to the Solitude Lake bench, and there can be avalanche danger. And bring flotation for the trip back out; one year we walked in on firm snow but literally had to crawl down to Mills Lake in the afternoon heat.

We descended to the Arrowhead-McHenry's saddle, and then down to the north (to Solitude Lake). I don't remember the details, but it wasn't bad.
By Ross
From: Pinewood Springs
May 26, 2008
rating: M4 Mod. Snow PG13

25MAY08 The 4th pitch, ice pitch, had ice all the way, exiting at the top without a traverse. Passing the chock stones on this climb are a lot of fun. Glad I didn't have a pack on for the 3rd pitch odd double chock stone, I still can't believe I actually put a sling on it, doh!

There is adequate pro but just enough, a deadman came in handy passing the one cornice we encountered. Our rack was a set of Camalots 3 to 0.5, wires, two Aliens, 2 screws, and a deadman. A yellow Camalot came in handy for the ice pitch, We found a fixed wire on the first pitch, crammed in the left corner that came in handy. You will want short ice screws.

In the conditions we had the climb was at least twice as hard as Dreamweaver but not as hard as the crux chock stone pitch on Halletts.

We went to the top and on the descent found cairns but they ended, we then went down about 500 or more feet on a steep snow slope looking for the descent but did not find it, likely it continues down see pic. So we ended up making 3 long raps to the skiers left of the snow slope. Don't go over there. In retrospect it would have been best to rap the route after the ice pitch. The rock above the ice pitch catches a lot of sun.

One of the best mixed climbs!!
By Adam Baxter
From: Estes Park, CO
Dec 20, 2008

This was my intro to Alpine mixed climbing, screaming barfies, and spindrift from above AND below. Absolutely loved it (after bailing at the top of the 3rd due to fear of frostbite in my digits). Way psyched to get some burly gloves and get back out. FA - Harry Kent sometime in the '70s or '80s.
By Kevin Landolt
From: Fort Collins, Wyoming
May 9, 2010

An excellent climb in a beautiful setting.

We were able to find the descent down to Solitude Lake without too much heartache, and downclimbed it all easily except for one 30m rap midway down the gully. We left a single nut and biner (for the rap), which will hopefully be of use to future parties.
By Mark D.
From: Santa Fe
Jun 5, 2013

Climbed the Hourglass on June 1. Conditions were great. This is a very nice route. Definitely the best mixed line I have climbed in the Park. Approach took about 3 hours on hard snow. We were able to walk across Solitude Lake. Coming out was punchy but doable without flotation. The ice pitch was in great shape! The chockstones on P1 were tricky, and pro was a little scarce.