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:

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