Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A deep mountainside gorge or gully, especially in the Swiss Alps.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A steep gorge along a mountainside.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A deep gorge; a gully.
  • n. A dredging machine for excavating canals, etc.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A steeply ascending gorge or gully: applied especially to gorges near the Alpine summits.
  • n. A dredging-machine which employs iron elevator-buckets on an endless chain and excavates by making a gully where the buckets pass.

Etymologies

French, from couler, to slide, to flow; see coulee.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French couloir. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • To get down that tongue of rock to the lower snows of the couloir was a job that fairly brought us to the end of our tether.

    Mr. Standfast

  • The snow in the couloir is a delight, turned sugary because it has sat untouched on the hill for so long, and we whoop as we ski down it, stopping occasionally to take photos, before we eventually reach a snow-covered road in a forgotten side valley.

    The Guardian World News

  • And it's prone to just halving off building-size chunks of ice and flushing down to the couloir, and if you're there at the wrong time, you're in big trouble.

    Stories From The 'Savage Mountain': Death On K2

  • Barry had climbed the couloir once before, in 1982, back when he admits he didn't know all that much about avalanche conditions.

    A Nature for the Great Outdoors

  • Kina had skied big lines in the Tetons for years; on many of them, if you failed to make the right turn at the right time, you would fall for a thousand feet, pinballing between the rocky walls of the couloir until you ragdolled out the bottom.

    Christian Beckwith: Greening the Barrio, Part 6

  • The rescue team went on to say that they had witnessed a climber in a red suit with patches fall from the middle of the Traverse, the section of the route which connects the top of the Bottleneck couloir to the summit slopes.

    Freddie Wilkinson: The Abandonment of Gerard McDonnell

  • But another Sherpa guide had dropped his ice axe, effectively stranding him, so Chhiring tied him to his harness, and down climbed the couloir with his friend hanging off him.

    Freddie Wilkinson: Heroes in Fine Print

  • The route to the summit of K2 follows steepening snow slopes towards a snow and ice couloir called "the Bottleneck".

    Freddie Wilkinson: Avalanche Triggers Survival Situation on K2

  • The ensuing serac avalanche swept down the Bottleneck couloir, stripping it of the fixed ropes the climbers had used to ascend to the summit.

    Freddie Wilkinson: Avalanche Triggers Survival Situation on K2

  • Then again, when you're flying 40 feet through the air on skis into an absurdly steep, rock-strewn couloir, it hardly matters whose logo you've got plastered on your back -- unless it's big enough to use as a parachute.

    Outer Limits

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