|Loch Vale & uphill
The Wham Couloir ascends a narrow gully immediately to the right of the namesake spire on the south face of Otis Peak. The crux first pitch is followed by easy but enjoyable terrain in a beautiful setting. Add in the relative proximity to the trail head, warm southern exposure and you get a great, fun route without a lot of alpine suffering.
Hike, ski, or (God forbid) shoeshoe past The Loch and head right up the Andrew's Creek drainage. After a short ways, you will come face to face with the featured south face of Otis Peak and The Wham Couloir.
When viewed from this angle, the direct start is the only one visible, while the WI4 start is hidden on the left.
We climbed the direct start through a steep chimney, finishing with a steep M5 bulge. The climbing was good, but the rock was loose in several places. Not recommended for the faint of heart.
Upon finishing the direct start, I noticed a great water ice flow coming up from the left. A quick peek down made it look like a less than vertical, but thin WI3+ pitch (to be confirmed). This start will likely be the more popular of the two.
Afterward, the technical difficulty decreased considerably, but the climbing was still enjoyable, Easy step kicking is occasionally interrupted by short rock steps and mixed climbing, the first of which was about M3.
Descend by walking east, until trees can be spotted towards the top of a south-facing slope leading back towards the Andrews Creek drainage. Follow trees down in order to avoid potential avalanche terrain, then bend right to get back to the base of the route.
I have not been able to find any record that this route has been climbed, at least as a winter alpine route, though the route could easily have been climbed before. One older rappel anchor was encountered at the top of the direct start. It is more likely that this anchor was set by a party descending from Wham.
Stubby screws, and a light rock rack should do well for the standards start. Add some pins for the direct start.
|By Greg Sievers|
From: Estes Park, CO
Feb 10, 2009
Like Maxwell Smart would say: "missed by that much", as I had seen this last year and hoped to snag it. Good job guys, looks like quite an enjoyable cruise.
|By J. Fox|
From: Black Hawk, CO
Feb 11, 2009
I spied this couloir as well in May of '07 (see photo I just attached) on the way to climb another one farther west on Otis's S. Face. We were just up into that one when a cornice broke above us and hit us with an avalanche. It went over most of our heads as we cowered behind boulders (rocky) but one guy in our party was swept about 200' down the apron. He's o.k.
|By Ben Collett|
Feb 14, 2009
I did the left hand start today. It was pretty fun, about M4. We left a couple of anchors so now one can descend the couloir by downclimbing and rapping the climb.
|By Erik W|
From: Bay Area, CA
Mar 15, 2009
Climbed via the left hand start yesterday. Fun route. We opted for the walk-off, but once in the trees, instead of bending back toward the Andrews Creek drainage, we skirted east when possible, across shelves, aiming straight for the shoreline of Loch Vale. It made for a much faster descent and chopped off a lot of distance on the hike out. [We left a pin on P1 which we planned on retrieving on the rap, but since we opted for the walk-off, it is still there. If anyone grabs it, I'll buy you a beer at Southern Sun for its return.]
|By Chris Plesko|
From: Westminster, CO
May 25, 2010
Ice on the route was pretty rotten today but still a lot of fun. Good mixed climbing down low and good neve up high. When the ice is bad, pro is definitely on the runout side, at least with our small rack (no pins or hexes). Some ice fall when the sun hit the walls above the route, but today it was small pieces. Well worth the hike.
|By Gordon Laurens|
Feb 16, 2011
Climbed Wham Couloir Feb. 13, 2011 and we pulled lose a suitcase-size boulder while climbing the first rock step in the gully. Much of the rock in this step seems loose and care should be taken when climbing up through this area.