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Author Topic: "The Unplanned Tour" - CJ Coulior, NCNP - 3.19.10  (Read 2272 times)
Stugie
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"The Unplanned Tour" - CJ Coulior, NCNP - 3.19.10
« on: 03/20/10, 07:42 PM »

I apologize ahead of time for the length.  However, due to the incredible close calls, I just couldn’t stop writing!  If you just look at the pics, it won’t hurt my feelings. Smiley

Stugie: "Kyle, I am definitely not down for anything tough.  I'm thinking an easy day on some corn...maybe lap Muir or the Paradise Glacier?"

Kyle: "What about the Sahale Arm?  It's going to be so nice out we should definitely head to the North Cascades."

Stugie: "Sounds good.  I haven't been up there for a while.  Yeah, let's do it.  I'll pick you up around 4:30."

We loaded gear and hit the road, and a few short stops later we were at the end of the N. Cascades Hwy.  We climbed out observing the lack of low elevation snow and also noting the five vehicles already parked there.  A group was getting ready to head up to do the Forbidden Traverse and as we were talking to them, two more people showed up with the same intentions.  Kyle was obviously thinking the same thing I was, "let's find our own space."  He too was becoming distracted by the "skyscraper" across the valley, Johannesburg Mtn.  We briefly talked it over and decided that if the CJ Coulior looked okay, we should definitely go for it.  This would be new for both of us, and was NOT in line with my torpid idea of a touring day, but I agreed to at least have a look.  Upon seeing this, I was quickly sold:

CJ Coulior, Johannesburg Mtn. - NCNPC



Upon further inspection, we found massive accumulations of avalanche debris.  In fact, so much debris that it looked like glacial moraine and piles of glacial debris as opposed to avalanche debris.  And it was relatively recent.  Last week’s “cleansing period” set off some massive slides, and from the looks of things, the entire coulior went BIG.  Good news for us however because stability would hopefully not be as much of an issue.

Kyle begins bootpacking through the rubble.



Working up the apron.



We hurriedly kicked in, getting good purchase on the crust that was near the surface.  Our suspicions had been correct and stability was proving to be excellent.  As we moved up, the conditions changed dramatically.  Stability was still good, but we began finding lots of ice and not a lot of powder.  Concentrating on quickly navigating the crux, we rapidly moved through the choke and changed lead.  Climbing to what looked like a relatively safe hump in the snow and out of the fall line, I dug out a bench and we set our packs and bodies down for a quick rest, some rehydration and calorie intake.

Kyle booting up to the crux entrance.


A wee bit of exposure.


Rest for the weary?



As we sat eating, we shared food and water and some Gu shots.  We discussed how fortunate we had been with conditions and as we faced down the exposed viewpoint from which we sat, we took in the beauty of the landscape in front of us.  We scanned the approach to Forbidden peak for the parties we had met previously and took some time catching our breath.  Then all of a sudden the muted thud! of something heavy hitting the snowpack above us grabbed our attention so fast we turned to look before we could even process what we were hearing.  To our horror we saw numerous massive balls of ice cascading and bouncing down the coulior straight towards us!  We talked calmly and each of us eyed our side, communicating where these massive chunks were heading.  Luckily since we were out of the fall line they hissed past us, hurtling at incredible speed.  Even though smaller chunks were slugging us in the arms and legs, we seemed to not notice at the time.  We just missed getting taken out or off a cliff by numerous desk-size balls of death.  We regained our composure slowly and began asking if the other was alright.  As we analyzed the situation and contemplated the cause, I looked back upslope.  Again, as if in an Alfred Hitchcock film, a sight that no mountaineer ever wants to see.  A billowing cloud of white was increasing in size and cascading towards us with incredible force.  There was no need to explain; the simple “Oh s***” that escaped my lips was enough to grab Kyle’s attention as well.

As we anchored down, we waited for impending doom.  The cliffs below us would be enough to seriously injure, if not kill us.  And that’s before the possibility of burial.  The speeding juggernaut would have no problem carrying us like ragdolls, but as it neared, it sounded like it too was veering down the fall line.  A quick look became a large dose of relief as we watched in awe the speeding avalanche miss us by a few feet.  The second instance in five minutes was enough to get us to seriously consider aborting the mission.  However, after putting the pieces together, we realized that the first instance must have been a falling cornice warmed by the little bit of sun that the eastern face receives.  The following avy was due to all the snow that had been knocked loosed from the falling cornice.  As we calculated all the details carefully, we humbly decided that either way we chose we would be in danger.  We scouted a relatively safe route on the climber’s right side of the coulior.  Although steep, it would keep us clear of the main fall line and help us to mitigate any further falling cornice danger.  It would also give us some time to allow the sun to retreat from the eastern wall.  So we pressed on.  Although slowly, we finally made the col.

Johannesburg



Although there was really good powder up top, our recent experiences had us on edge the whole way down.  We opted to traverse and drop the skier left chute, hoping for powder.  We instead were blessed with survival turns and ice.  Luckily, we got a good powder fix up top and some choice spots on the way down.  More importantly, we both made it out with only a few bruises.  All in all, a really good trip.  Thanks Kyle for a great day!  I can say I think for both of us that I am now even more paranoid than ever about falling cornices.  Here’s a couple last shots:

Climbing Route – Red
Ski Decent – Blue


Kyle making it look good before the crux.


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"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals; the houses where I practice my religion." - Anatoli Boukreev
silaswild
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Re: "The Unplanned Tour" - CJ Coulior, NCNP - 3.19
« Reply #1 on: 03/20/10, 08:06 PM »

Glad you lived to ski/board another day, that's quite a bowling alley.
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jeff_s
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Re: "The Unplanned Tour" - CJ Coulior, NCNP - 3.19
« Reply #2 on: 03/20/10, 08:32 PM »

I am now even more paranoid than ever about falling cornices. 

You're not paranoid if they really are coming for you! Thanks for the cautionary tale. Glad to hear that no actual skiers were hurt in the production of this adventure. Nick & I were quite happy to be watching & hearing big icefalls down onto the Nisqually from 1/4 mile away yesterday.
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Marcus
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Re: "The Unplanned Tour" - CJ Coulior, NCNP - 3.19.10
« Reply #3 on: 03/20/10, 09:44 PM »

Nice work staying alive, fellas.  Good route selection, or good luck (or both) to have you out of the way of the worst of it when it let go.
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Keith_Henson
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Re: "The Unplanned Tour" - CJ Coulior, NCNP - 3.19.10
« Reply #4 on: 03/21/10, 08:17 AM »

Spooky. Glad you guys are OK!  Gripping adventure.

That baby, the Sill Glacier, has a hanging section. As I was reading, especially, "... so much debris that it looked like glacial moraine and piles of glacial debris as opposed to avalanche debris," I was thinking that it was pieces of the glacier coming down. 3,400 feet of climbing in the col.

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Keith A Henson, Puyallup
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alecapone
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Re: "The Unplanned Tour" - CJ Coulior, NCNP - 3.19.10
« Reply #5 on: 03/21/10, 08:25 AM »

Sick! I didn't have time to look at all the pictures but the writing is great!

What did you have for breakfast?





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scott
Stugie
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Re: "The Unplanned Tour" - CJ Coulior, NCNP - 3.19.10
« Reply #6 on: 03/21/10, 09:43 AM »

I didn't have time to look at all the pictures but the writing is great!

 Smiley Thanks Ale!  Breakfast included bananas, apples, and coffee...although I could have definitely gone for one of Brad's sandwiches!

That baby, the Sill Glacier, has a hanging section...I was thinking that it was pieces of the glacier coming down.

At one of the safer spots we stopped on the way down, we looked up and I think I said something like, "Dude, that's glacial ice for sure.  Did you know this thing had glacial ice?"  Huh  Kyle and I both learned of the glacial presence on the way down...definitely an unplanned tour.
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"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals; the houses where I practice my religion." - Anatoli Boukreev
Kyle Miller
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Re: "The Unplanned Tour" - CJ Coulior, NCNP - 3.19.10
« Reply #7 on: 03/21/10, 08:14 PM »

That line sure is a beauty and she's steep as well.
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In a perfect world, everybody would act with the correct etiquette and follow the rules. Human nature as it is= NOT GOING TO HAPPEN....no matter how many discussion on ski blogs/websites. Face reality............
kath
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Re: "The Unplanned Tour" - CJ Coulior, NCNP - 3.19.10
« Reply #8 on: 03/22/10, 03:21 PM »

o yeah way to get er done ... kyle i was thinking about you on sat and wondering where you might be .. then a little birdie told me .. man no rest for you Wink
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BillK
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Re: "The Unplanned Tour" - CJ Coulior, NCNP - 3.19.10
« Reply #9 on: 03/25/10, 09:25 AM »

Alpine start needed on a big one like that...
Don't die!
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Kyle Miller
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Re: "The Unplanned Tour" - CJ Coulior, NCNP - 3.19.10
« Reply #10 on: 03/25/10, 10:12 AM »

Alpine start needed on a big one like that...
Don't die!
While I totally agree with you I was coming back from a long tour last night around 9p.m. and we heard the CJ rip huge. The avalanche went on for about 5 minutes. More likely wait until corn season?
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In a perfect world, everybody would act with the correct etiquette and follow the rules. Human nature as it is= NOT GOING TO HAPPEN....no matter how many discussion on ski blogs/websites. Face reality............
Erick Heyl
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Re: "The Unplanned Tour" - CJ Coulior, NCNP - 3.19.10
« Reply #11 on: 03/25/10, 03:53 PM »

Yikes!
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Back in the saddle again...
Snow Bell
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Re: "The Unplanned Tour" - CJ Coulior, NCNP - 3.19.10
« Reply #12 on: 03/25/10, 04:22 PM »

Good read Scott.  It's funny that you guys ended up going for that route.  You seemed pretty sure that you were gonna take it easy.  Sahale?  please.  Did you really think that you and Kyle would just hang out and ski mellow laps in the sun?   Wink

I'm sure that we are all glad you weren't more involved in the incident.  Good job taking your break in the right place at the right time.  The massive deposition zone in the photo suggests that bitch sheds on the regular. 

Good pictures and TR guys.  Thanks.

.. I was coming back from a long tour last night around 9p.m. and we heard the CJ rip huge.

Can we look forward to a TR on that one, young Buck?
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Life is going to slide by you one way or another
Kyle Miller
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Re: "The Unplanned Tour" - CJ Coulior, NCNP - 3.19.10
« Reply #13 on: 03/26/10, 11:21 AM »

Can we look forward to a TR on that one, young Buck?

I don't know what you are talking about.

Now I'm off to Splitfest up at Baker for the weekend!
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In a perfect world, everybody would act with the correct etiquette and follow the rules. Human nature as it is= NOT GOING TO HAPPEN....no matter how many discussion on ski blogs/websites. Face reality............
Marcus
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Re: "The Unplanned Tour" - CJ Coulior, NCNP - 3.19.10
« Reply #14 on: 03/26/10, 11:27 AM »



Wonga... glad y'all were roped up!
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Snow Bell
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Re: "The Unplanned Tour" - CJ Coulior, NCNP - 3.19.10
« Reply #15 on: 03/26/10, 11:51 AM »



Ahh ha!  This explains how it is that you are getting so much done this season!  Grin

Great get guys (and girl)!  I always look forward to hearing of your exploits. 
Baker should be $ tomorrow.
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Life is going to slide by you one way or another
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