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NWAC Avalanche
+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2010 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  April 2010 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  4/7/2010 McClellan's Butte: North Coulouir
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Author Topic: 4/7/2010 McClellan's Butte: North Coulouir  (Read 3103 times)

Posts: 92

4/7/2010 McClellan's Butte: North Coulouir
« on: 04/08/10, 11:04 AM »

Driving I-90 on the way home after a tour up to Pineapple Pass during the bluebird Wednesday of last week, our eyes fell on the N Coulouir of McClellan's Butte, and it looked to be in.  With the snow over the weekend, we figured the coverage would be good, and NWAC forecasts for the low elevations looked reasonable.  Departed Seattle at 0400, accessed forest service roads via exit 38, and succeeded in driving up to the turn for NFD 9021 around 1900 feet.  On route by 0515, we hiked NFD 9021 to hard left onto NFD 110 at 2100' ft and began the bootpack up through the woods at 2500', approx 1/4 mil from the hairpin turn (map at,-121.621056&spn=0.036533,0.123596&t=p&z=14 ).  Snowcover was reasonable from halfway up NFD 110, but we delayed skinning until after the bootpack up onto the bench near the entrance to the coulouir at 3000'.  We left the road farther west than necessary, and this resulted in a bit of mucking around in the woods, as visibility was poor.  After 30 minutes, we made it out of the woods and into the chute around 0800. 

Debris from several naturally triggered releases in the past few days was obvious, and a quick pit showed about 12" of new dense but slabby powder over an older, hoar-frost topped layer with some shear susceptibility.  We decided to proceed with caution and began the skin up.  Progress was fairly rapid to 4300', where the chute steepens toward 50 degrees and the snow became deeper.  We traversed right below the north face, hoping to gain the west ridge and potentially skin to the summit.  The skinning became progressively harder in the narrowing chute, and attempts at bootpacking were futile.  A delicate traverse to the trees on the right side of the chute and a Cascade bush belay brought us to slopes back under 45 degrees, and another 20 minutes brought us to the west ridge.  Visibility was again poor, despite earlier periods in which the summit had come into view, with the occasional glimpse of Granite across the valley.  While we brought rope and tools, the lack of visibility and familiarity curtailed our plan to cross the summit and descend the east ridge to a steep chute into the top of the coulouir, so we pulled our skins at 5040' and dropped over the ridge around 1115, following our skin track through the fog. 

The warming day had turned the dense powder into setting Cascade concrete, but the descent proved enjoyable and the snow stable.  We continued straight down below the debris fan at the bottom of the coulouir, and coverage proved adequate to ski over the talus field, despite a few nicks to the bases of our skis.  A brief bootpack down through the trees brought us back to NFD 110, and we skied from there halfway back to NFD 9021, where snow coverage became inadequate and we hiked the last 3/4 of a mile back to the car.  Total of around 3100 vert, and a nice line checked off the list.  Pics added soon.

* McClellanNC1.jpg (149.01 KB, 600x800 - viewed 786 times.)

* McClellanNC2.jpg (216.21 KB, 800x600 - viewed 820 times.)

* McClellanNC3.jpg (159.77 KB, 600x800 - viewed 798 times.)
« Last Edit: 04/09/10, 12:54 AM by andybrnr » Logged

Posts: 506

Re: 4/7/2010 McClellan's Butte: North Coulouir
« Reply #1 on: 04/08/10, 05:30 PM »

very nice!  that's one of those lines that's been on the to-do list for years, way to check it off !

was it turning warm even up near the top?  ie above freezing near 5k?

chill people, skiing is fun

Posts: 92

Re: 4/7/2010 McClellan's Butte: North Coulouir
« Reply #2 on: 04/09/10, 12:39 AM »

Believe the freezing level was in the vicinity of 4000 by 11ish.  If we'd started the descent a little sooner (we were near 4500 around 9:45, but the last 500 feet took ~2hrs with route-finding and skinning practice on >50degree slope), the snow would've been a touch better, but the older layer was a little grabby, anyhow, so still not exactly blower pow... but fun nonetheless.  With the additional snow in the last 24 hrs, line should be good to go on Saturday or Sunday after some settling.
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