The Wishbone Couloir, named after its striking resemblance to the bone that inspires the classic competition to see who gets their wish granted, lies within the Northern San Juan Mountains. Unlike the game, anyone who ventures to ski the Wishbone Couloir comes away with smiles on their faces and their wish of skiing a moderate and classic line granted.
Peaking at a 41-degree slope angle, the western descent isn’t for beginners, although the couloir is wide and gradually mellows out as you approach the apron. With an elevation gain of 2,466 feet from the parking lot in just under a mile and a half, elevation is gained quickly. As you break above tree line you are greeted with the world-class view of the Trinity Peaks, Vestal Peak, and Arrow Peak, all barely under 14,000 feet. The approach presents itself as you gain the last bit of elevation to the bench where the boot pack begins. With an average slope angle of 35 degrees, the approach is not overly steep. While some choose to boot pack sooner than later, it is possible to switchback over half the line, where ultimately a transition must be made. Be aware of the occasional cornice and rock fall looming above as you approach the saddle; once there, you'll be greeted with a sea of peaks to the north and south and the Wishbone waiting below. An ice ax and crampons are highly encouraged based on conditions and your level of experience, and they always offers a great sense of security.
While skiing the line there are multiple safe points on the descent to break the couloir into two stages while keeping an eye on your partner. The first stage takes you down the first steep slope and into a wide point on the skier's left. The second stage continues all the way into the apron and onto the bench. By skiing the same slopes you skinned up, you can get all the way back to your start point without transitioning.
After nearly 2,500 feet of amazing skiing in the alpine with spectacular views, the Wishbone Couloir line rarely disappoints.
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.