Grand Daddy couloir on Bow Peak – what a classic line. On April 19th a group of friends and I got chased off of it before we even had our boots on when the cannon sound of cornice fall scared the bejeezus out of us in the Mosquito Creek parking lot. That was a Wednesday, and we all had a very early lunch just above treeline while things fell down around the line. On Saturday though, India and I went back to finish the job.
I don’t enjoy bailing. It’s a necessary part of travel in the mountains of course, and it is probably true that I learn more while bailing than while succeeding, but neither of those facts make me hate it any less. With that in mind, we got up at a sane, but definitely early hour, hurried out to the parkway and wasted no time getting out of the trees.
Once we got to the base of the couloir we were excited to feel a cold breeze and to note that the sun was hidden behind a thin layer of high cloud. The timing was clearly much better this time and we headed up, finding reasonably easy travel for the first 150m or so of booting.
Above that, there had been much less sloughing and the pow got deeper with every step, making for some tougher trail breaking. At least until the steeper portions of the line, which felt very firm indeed under the little bit of fresh.
Near the top, the couloir splits briefly and we took the left line. It’s narrower but a little less exposed to the hazards above. Once the two paths became one again we were face to face with the looming cornice at ridgetop, so it was easy to find the motivation to move quickly over a small step of hard snow to the top of the skiable snow.
Although the sun remained fairly hidden and we had yet to see anything move, we transitioned quickly, for obvious reasons. Some careful skiing got us through the upper choke, then we opened it up once we hit the mostly excellent snow in the main couloir.
Some classic spring survival skiing had us back at the car by noon, which is just about the right time with all this warm weather lately. Hopefully one day soon we’ll get some real spring melt freeze cycles, and maybe even some high pressure. Until then though, powdery roadside classics are suiting me just fine.