Monday, May 9, 2011

Hanging Valley Couloir

I got the idea to ski into the Hanging Valley last year from Joe Stock who ventured deep into the South Fork for "cooler season."

Although American-ized, we like to call them "coolers" or "coolies" - referring to the french term "couloir": meaning "passage" or "corridor," a narrow gully with a steep gradient in a mountainous terrain.
After a day of excessive partying for a friends 40th birfday party, we got the classic 11:00 late start and made our way into Hanging Valley.  Connecting the patches of snow and tundra, we put on/took off our skis about 10 times before making it to the base of the large chute.  Not to mention negotiating the rotten saturated isothermic snowpack....

Tyler expresses his need for "couloir love".  Our destination is straight ahead.
This couloir, which I dont have a specific name, required a 1500' boot pack.  Reference previous posts about boot packing.  We went from skinning, to booting, to booting with crampons, and finally to wallowing in waist deep powder wishing we had a pair of verts.  We made it about 100' shy of the top, finally peeling our skins and enjoying the fresh May powder.

After nearly 8.5 hours of slogging, we arrived back at the Harp Mtn. pull out.  Tired, sweat soaked, sunburned, dehydrated, hungry, blistered, and aching.  The "body destroyer" pretty much says it all:

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day!

The first day of May skied surprisingly well.  I thought that the forecast called for mostly cloudy and rain for the next week, but we got a nice sucker hole.  I headed solo up to Hatcher Pass and had my mind set on either a couloir I scoped a couple months back near Gold Cord, or the north facing chutes on the Rae-Wallace Headwall.

LB and I slugged it out and made it as far as I could before I started booting.  I hate boot packing.  It must've been really warm last week, because there were a lot of rollerballs that made the
The pass also got about an inch of snow during that small front that moved through late in the week. The entire chute skied very well, requiring you to dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge the occasional "death cookie". Lobita was loving the slope angle, but had it rough post-holing through the isothermal snowpack in the south facing flats.
I'll take it for the first day of May.  I have to work both of the weekends in mid-May, so next weekend I have to get after it.  It may be time to bring it back closer to home.  I've got my eye on Raina's north couloir, and the chutes in Hanging Valley.

Labels: , , , , , ,