Wednesday, May 25, 2016

4/29/2016, Matterhorn, West Couloir

Mass posting continued….

After a long, fun, and exhausting day on Bloody Mountain, Tanner and I headed North to go for the Matterhorn West Couloir.  Tanner said it had been on his list for sometime, and with promising conditions, it was time to check it off!

Standard Eastside approach:  Are we backpacking or splitboarding?

Oh, there is the snow we came for.  It actually is winter up here!  Tanner slogging along.

And hours of effort later, we were booting up our objective couloir.  Powder again, I love using my verts in late April!

No good riding shots, but I did get this shot looking down the couloir.  Water on the lens... ;)

And we capped off another great day, with a trip to a new hot springs…  I sure love the Eastern Sierra.

4/28/2016, Bloody Mountain, Bloody Couloir

I have been distracted by life recently and have not put any time or focus into updating the blog.  Now I am way behind and rather than giving up, I am going to do massive post drops with minimal words and less pictures.  Here we go….

Day 2 Eastern Sierra, Alex, Tanner, climbed and rode the Bloody Couloir on Bloody Mountain.  We hiked up the couloir got socked in clouds 2/3's the way up, kept climbing, hit a wind slab 200' from the summit and called it quits there. We rode great powder down an awesome couloir!

Alex and Tanner on the standard Eastside approach…

Getting to the upper drainage we were able to skin up the bottom third of the couloir.  Beautiful Terrain.

And then it was booting, good thing for the boys, I brought my verts... :)

Awesome pow in an awesome run.

And we capped off the day with the standard Eastisde hot springs sesh.  WAHOOOOO

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

4/26/2016, North Couloir, Red Slate Mountain

Heading down to the Eastern Sierra; Jim, Buell and Zak, hooked me up with some touring partners, and on 4/26 Brooks and hit the ball running.  Brooks is and Eastside vet, and local crusher. He wanted to go for the North Couloir on Red Slate.  It was a long hike but, an iconic Eastside line.  I was stoked to give it a go.  We got up at 4:45 and were on the trail just after 5:30am.

My first day in the Eastern Sierra, and I was drooling over everything… 

Laurel Peak. 

Mt. Morrison.

We hiked all the way to the upper basin before we hit consistent snow.  It was then we also got the first view of our objective. 

My GPS clocked us at 7.8 miles to the base of the couloir.  Lots of walking...

We dug a pit at the base of the couloir, and used verts to climb up.  On the way up we noticed the couloir had a cross loaded windslab from the recent snow.  We monitored it on the way up, and felt safe as it was only on one side of the couloir, and was not very thick.

Getting to the top we were exhausted.  We switched over and got ready for a run dreams are made out of.  Brooks dropped first and ripped it up.

Brooks rode partway down the couloir, and then pulled off in a nook to take pictures.  I dropped in, took a couple turns, and creeped over to the wind loaded side of the couloir (because the fresh snow was enticing) and on my second turn the snow broke around me.  The slab that released was small, maybe 15x15, and I easily rode off and stopped on the other side of the couloir.  As the snow went down the couloir it broke multiple additional cross loaded slabs.  Before long, the amount of snow was sizable and produced a large powder cloud in the apron.  When I originally triggered the slide, I yelled avalanche 3 times to alert Brooks.  He heard me, and was lucky to be in a safe spot protect by rocks on the side of the couloir.  The slide rushed passed him but he was safe…

A view of the crown.  You can not see the original slab I triggered.  These are all additional pockets that released from added stress to the slope.

View of the thickest part of the crown.


It was a great run, and a scary experience.  I think that there were a couple things at play the contributed to this slide, one of the main being that we were physically exhausted.  After an 8 mile skin, and booting up the couloir, our exhaustion contributed to our poor decision making. The line could have easily been ski cut, and should have been… We should have discussed riding the non-loaded side of the chute only…. We should have recognized the slab potential and shear quality in our hand pits on the way up…  What we did correct was ride one at a time, and keep ourselves in safe zones, this kept us safe.  A very important learning experience, and I feel I learned a lot on relating pole/hand pit results to potential failure in a wind slab.  Be careful out there; follow protocol, use safe zones, and do not be afraid to back off even if you have vested a lot of effort into the objective.  The mountains and couloirs are not going anywhere.   

4/25/2016, Crater Lake

After the Wallowa's it was a short visit to Portland to tie up some loose ends, and then it was time to begin heading south to the Eastern Sierra.  I stopped in Bend for the weekend, shredded with the hemies, and drank beers. On Sunday night I drove down to Crater Lake, with the plan of an early morning tour, and then hitting the rode south.  It snowed Sunday and was a beautiful, cold, wintery day.  I toured to Applegate peak, then hit Garfield Peak, snagged a fun run, and was on the road!

Wintery vibes on the Crater Rim. 

Clouds obscured the view from Applegate, but the weather granted views from the top of Garfield.

West Pano...

East Pano...

Wind buffed powder rode great! 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

4/15-4/16/2016, Chief Joseph Mountain

When we left the McCully yurt on 4/13, went back to Enterprise, and took a rest day.  Snow squalls covered the mountains, and things were lining up for a potential day of pow and stability.  Mike asked me where I wanted to go touring for Friday/Saturday, and I respond Chief Joe.  You can see the aesthetic lines from town, and I drool over them every time I am in the Wallowa Valley.  Mike said he was down to give it a go, so we sent. 

Rest day scoping the lines... 

We got an early start friday and shwacked our way up the lower mountain.  When we reached the cirque containing our objective couloirs, we dug a snowpit in an area of sparsely gladed trees aside the avalanche path/aprons. The snowpack was great; 6" of "right side up" new snow, bonded well to a strong April snowpack.  We felt good and booted up the far lookers left couloir.

Mike booting up...

The weather was in and out all day.  Actually it was mostly in, and clouds socked the mountain.  After climbing the couloir we waited for a window of visibility and dropped.
Mike ripping it up, poles and all….

The weather was supposed to break in the afternoon, and feeling good about stability I climbed up our boot-pack again, hoping to snag another one of the couloirs down the ridge. As it turned out the weather  never broke.  I waited at the top of the couloir for 45 minutes and then dropped back down the boot-pack couloir.  Shreddy, go!

We had a fun day working the weather, and in the evening discussed touring the next day.  After some back and forth we decided to head back to the Chief.  We had a trail/ boot pack set, and 4 more virgin couloirs.We made much better time Saturday and were in the Cirque in 2 hours.  Getting to the boot pack it was obvious we made the right decision.

We booted up, and dropped one of the dogleg couloirs first.  The couloir has an upper snowfield and then drops through a rock lined chute.
Mike shredding out of the chute....

Mike was tired and posted up in the basin while I went up for another.  Looking at our tracks from run 1, Joseph and Wallowa lake in the background.

I traversed up the ridge to the main couloir.  Looking down the face.

The snow was perfect; settled, stable, pow.  Such an amazing run!

What an amazing 2 days.  Some objectives have more sentimental value than others, and riding these lines meant a lot to me.  Almost like a right of passage into the Wallowa.  Thank you, Chief Joe.  

Our tracks seen from town. 

4/11-4/13/16, McCully Basin

Leaving Camp Norway was hard, as the terrain is endless.  Mike wanted to take me up to the McCully Hut as well, so we went for the back to back yurt trips leaving Norway on Sunday and hiking into McCully on Monday.  I was like, "Back to back yurt trips, OH YEAHHHH!" 

Mike hiking the road. 

Putting the approach behind us, we were greeted to a warm yurt and deep snowpack.

After dropping off our overnight gear, we headed straight for Aneroid.
Ya boy, summit chillen at 9,701'.

Wallowa Pano.

We rode the NE face, and scored perfect corn.

The snow was great, so we went up for another.  Mike riding a chute on "Big Sexy Line Ridge".

Evidence of shred. 

On 4/12 it rained nearly all day, and we didn't leave the yurt until 5pm when the weather broke temporarily.  The was some fresh snow and with more expected overnight we were stoked for the next morning.  4/13, we got an early start and went right back to BSLR.  4-6" of new snow, not the deepest but super fun and safe!

After BSLR, we skirted over towards the Castle, and rode this tasty ramp.  Mike shredding...

We then climbed back up onto the Aneroid ridge, with a couloir in mind.  Unfortunately, the entrance to the couloir was guarded by a windslab so we backed off, and rode down from the saddle.  What a great 3 days!

A parting shot of Twin Peaks and Sawtooth from the drive back to Enterprise.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

4/07-4/10/2016, Camp Norway, Wallowa Mountains

I have wanted to give the Wallowa Mountains the time and respect they deserved for some time now.  Looking for a change in work, and taking some time off this spring gave me the perfect opportunity to explore the mountain range a little more.  My friend Mike moved to Enterprise last summer, and has been working for CB at the Wallowa Alpine Huts.  Upon arriving in Enterprise on 4/06, Mike told me Camp Norway was free for the weekend and we would be welcomed to visit.  High pressure was dominating over the region and I was stoked to check out the Southern end of the range.  We drove to Halfway on Thursday and without a sled, hiked the 8 miles + vert into the yurt.  We rode corn friday and saturday, then headed out on Sunday.  What an awesome way to start the exploration!

Halfway, Oregon. 

Our primary objective on Friday was to get on top of Red Mountain and check out the local terrain.  The view from 9560' didn't suck.

And we scored perfect corn on Red's East face.  Mike shredding…

We spy'd this North facing couloir on the approach to Red and went for it for our second run. 

Booting up the snow was smooth but, starting to get to saturated.  We hurried to the top, and dropped down the most shaded aspect.  We were able to get some good snow, and for the most part avoid wet avalanche concerns.

 Looking up the coulie.  

Celebrating at the yurt after an awesome day! Not a bad view…

With overnight temps in the 40's, seriously, we knew things would be getting soft fast the next day.  We got up early but, on the approach to Norway Peak decided the E/NE facing slope had already received too much sun.  We adapted our plan, and went for these south facing chuter's.  They were not the longest chutes but, with the right aspect we were able to get perfect corn.

 After ripping both of the chutes we hiked to the top of the bowl for one last run.  Another great day in an awesome area.

A view of North Cornucopia, on the commute back to the yurt.

The next morning we trekked back to the car and drove back to Joseph for the next adventure.