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Chester Lake Couloir

A technical Couloir with an easy approach

Ski Touring Severe

10 km
1.2 km
1.2 km
Low Point
1.9 km
High Point
3 km
Chester Lake Couloir Map

This Couloir is tricky to hit in the right conditions. It's a beautiful 800 meter line which is hard to get right; due to wind it is not always fully filled in. The snow can also be very faceted in this couloir and it's prudent to be patient, check the stability and ski in the area a bit before attempting this line. There are a number of rock outcroppings and rocks on the route so it isn't an "open up with big swoopy turns" kind of couloir - more of a technical "ski with care" line.


The approach is extremely straightforward and easy following the heavily used Chester Lake trail which sees thousands of snow shoers and cross country skiers each winter. The approach actually does not involve avalanche terrain until you reach the lake. At the lake you will want to ensure your beacon is on as you traverse around it (or ski over it if it is frozen solid) under some very big slopes. Take care with the fan as this is often one of the most avalanche prone features when skiing a couloir. You may want to bring crampons and a mountaineering axe plus billy goat plates depending on the snow conditions you are expecting to encounter.

You will bootpack the full 800 meters and hopefully be rewarded with a great descent. To get to trailhead you park at the Chester Lake day use parking which is on the Smith Dorrien Road across from Burstall Pass. If you are coming from Calgary it is slightly faster to go via Highway 40. If you are coming from Canmore you will take the Smith Dorrien road which begins just past the nordic center. The Smith Dorrien is a gravel road so proceed with good winter tires and a sense of adventure. As with all tours off this road there is no cell reception so carry a remote rescue device such as a spot or inreach.



Steep skiing at 38-45 degrees. This requires very good technique and the risk of falling has serious consequences.

Medium Exposure (E2)

2 out of 4

As well as the slope itself, there are some obstacles (such as rock outcrops) which could aggravate injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between December and May


  • Bowl
  • Alpine
  • Cliffs
  • Couloir
  • Single Descent
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Skins
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area