Queen’s Way, Indian Peaks Wilderness
Queen’s Way is in the heart of Indian Peaks Wilderness. It is the name given to a classic couloir of Apache Peak (13,441′) which is the second highest peak in the area under North Arapaho Peak.
Fun facts: This area encompasses a stretch of seven peaks over 13,000′ in elevation. Many of the peaks inside the wilderness area are named after western Native American tribes. The naming scheme was the idea of botany teacher Ellsworth Bethel in 1914. Inspired by the established name of the Arapaho Peaks, 11 tribal names for various summits along the Divide were named. The United States Board on Geographic Names kept 6 of his names: Apache Peak, Arikaree Peak, Kiowa Peak, Navajo Peak, Ogalalla Peak and Pawnee Peak. He later added Paiute Peak, as his use of the Ute band was denied due to too many other Colorado features sharing that name. Other names, including Shoshoni Peak, Hiamovi Mountain, Satanta Peak and Watanga Mountain were added later.
Spring / Summer route
During the summer, when the Brainard Lake Recreation area opens (usually not until mid-late June) you can access the Long Lake Trailhead. Prior to that, if the roads are clear (spring) you can bike from the lower parking area prior to the entry gate all the way to the Long Lake Trailhead.
The Queens Way route starts at the Long Lake Trailhead. During the winter months when the road from the recreation area is closed, this will add roughly four miles to the route. The first couple of miles are relatively easy travel on Pawnee Pass Trail. At 2.25 miles, or approximately 10,887 feet in elevation, you will want to fork left at the trail junction for Isabelle Glacier. This will take you along the Northern flanks of Lake Isabelle. Another 1.5 miles will place you at a small glacial pool at the base of the glacier. The start of the couloir is another 600 feet above you. Carefully judge the conditions and amount of snow, and pick your line up the glacier accordingly. In late season it’s easy to go North and above the pool to gain the glacier. If you tour in the winter or early season, use caution and understand that there is a very cold pool of water there.
Use judgement on Queen’s Couloir. During the winter months and avalanche season pay careful attention to your slope angle. The apron quickly rises in to avalanche prone angles — almost unnoticeably!