If you have ever driven west on Interstate 70 toward Copper Mountain, you have surely passed Mount Royal. Poised on the north face of Mount Royal, the Coin Slot Couloir looms over the highway and remains sheltered most of the day. Aptly named for a series of cruxes that boast tip-to-tail clearance, the Coin Slot maintains a narrow consistency that only lets up as you approach the apron. With a peak slope angle of 42 degrees, it’s pretty steep from bottom to top.
Approaching the line from the parking area at the corner of West Main Street and Forest Drive, it takes just over an hour to reach the saddle. This descent is considered serious terrain, and extra consideration must be taken to get safely to the anchors due to some loose rock and consequential terrain below.
There is something fun about setting out for a tour on skis with ropes and technical equipment packed safely away for when the day gets to be a little more serious. Ropes, a harness, and proper rappelling equipment are absolutely required. Upon locating the tree with slings wrapped around it, anchor yourself and thread the ropes. The rappel into the couloir is 100 feet. Occasionally as you descend into the couloir you'll find a large bench shoveled into the slope. This can be very useful as a staging area to coil ropes and get ready to ski.
After transitioning following the mandatory 100-foot rappel to access the couloir, head northwest and begin to descend the north aspect of the Mount Royal. Once you've checked the snow stability, drop the fall line for 100 feet before you reach the first narrow section. The couloir widens slightly and drops you right back into a narrow slot that brushes both the tip and tails of skis. Skiing the apron allows you to link some long glory turns before reaching the recreation trail and your path back to the parking lot.
Although fun, Coin Slot has serious consequences if someone were to make a mistake, and it must be treated accordingly. A high level of skill with rope systems and skiing technical terrain is highly encouraged before this route is attempted.
As always be safe and have fun!
Note that the summer trail and skin track can lose snow coverage by spring, and you may have to remove your skis and walk in some areas.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.