• couloir
  • audio pronunciation
  • \kool-WAHR\
  • DEFINITION

noun

: a steep mountainside gorge
  • EXAMPLES

During our helicopter tour of the mountain range, we saw several snowboarders taking on the steep terrain of the couloir.

"Max and his father had a tough time getting to the top of El Diente Peak in the San Juan Mountains, resorting to ice axes and crampons to get through a couloir on the mountain." — From an article by John Aguilar in the Daily Camera (Boulder, Colorado), August 15, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?

"Couloir" entered English in the 19th century from French, where it literally meant "passage." The term was originally applied specifically to steep gorges in the Alps and later to similar gorges elsewhere, especially ones used by skiers as passages down mountains. Because of their narrowness and steepness, couloirs can provide even expert skiers with some of the most challenging terrain they are likely to encounter—and they can be dangerous. In fact, journalist Jim Kochevar, writing of his experiences at the Telluride ski area for the Chicago Tribune in October 1997, declared (tongue in cheek) that "Couloir is French for 'cold, narrow place to die.'"

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