Despite its small stature, Mt. Royal (10,502′) near the town of Frisco is home to several excellent climbing, hiking, and skiing routes. The “Royal Flush”, a local rock favorite overlooking I-70, rises in 8 pitches from the floor of Ten Mile Canyon to the peak’s summit, providing an adventuresome sports climb for anyone looking to get some multi pitch experience. There are also several hiking and snowshoe trails on the peak’s south side that can be accessed straight from town.
Just to the west of the Royal Flush lies a steep, inset couloir that is entirely worth the effort to approach and ski despite it’s short length. This route is known to locals as the “Coin Slot” due to it’s narrow, vertical appearance on the cliff wall. The route sees a lot of winter traffic in general, this season in particular (a Facebook post about it has gone up seemingly every week since January), so we figured we might as well check it out.
Brian, Brandon, Rick, J, and I started skinning from the Mt. Royal TH around 8:30am. After gaining some elevation in the woods on Royal’s north aspect, it became clear the recent temps/weather had wreaked havoc on the snow quality in the area. As we skinned up a hard breakable crust/ice sheet, we took comfort knowing we’d be skiing a different aspect down the mountain. An hour skin had us near the top of Royal (but still below tree line), where we threw on harnesses in preparation for the rappel into the couloir. Elliot and company were kind enough to point us in the direction of the slot’s entrance, otherwise it would have been difficult for us to find. Having already skied the slot a few times this year, they wound up peeling off and skiing Royal’s North Face. Congrats again guys on what looks like an interesting line!
The rappel was a ton of fun, and it wasn’t that difficult to stomp out a platform to click in once in the couloir. We used two 30m ropes tied together and the length was more than sufficient. A tree at the top of the couloir made for a great anchor.
The route itself looks much steeper from the highway than it really is. I’d say 40 degrees, maybe a touch over 40 in a spot or two. The most interesting section of the route is the first choke, as it requires you to make several turns with your ski tips/tails clearing the walls on either side by a foot or so. Once below the first choke, the route widens out again briefly before heading down through a second, slightly wider choke. Once through, it’s an easy ski through the trees down to the bike path on the south side of I-70.
We skied out to the bike path and met my Dad who had hiked down from the parking lot to watch us ski. After that it was off to Brian’s local recommendation, The Lost Cajun for gumbo and sweet tea.
Coin Slot was a fun, short adventure and made for a great day in less than ideal weather conditions. An hour up and two hours down, can’t beat that for a line like this one.
P.s. Check out Brandon’s take over at 7 Summits.