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| |-+  April 2012 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  April 8, 2012, LanePeak Zipper and Fly couloirs
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Author Topic: April 8, 2012, LanePeak Zipper and Fly couloirs  (Read 1684 times)

Posts: 110

April 8, 2012, LanePeak Zipper and Fly couloirs
« on: 04/10/12, 05:08 PM »

So the plan Saturday morning was to head down to Paradise, do a few laps, and give Jen a rundown on my trip to Haines (100k of vert in a week and a half, it was amazing btw)

I mention how great the view was, Jen immediately asks "why the hell aren't we over there?" and points at the tatoosh.  "That's a very good question, what the hell are we doing?".  So we decided to just do two quick laps and then do some recon.

The next morning we were on road before 5am hoping to get an early start.  Instead we arrived to a locked gate at Longmire and got a chance to put our skins on.  We made it to Narada Falls just around 8:30, bootpack up to the Stevens Canyon road was icy and sketchy.  We decided to tour all the way out to reflection lake because the snow in the woods down towards tatoosh creek was pure ice (and I hate transitioning out of touring mode).

Things got interesting with creeks opening up, nothing like mandatory no fall zones on your way in!

Toured up the lower section of Lane as long as it was feasible, eventually gave up and just booted it to the trees where The Zipper and The Fly meet.

The fly couloir had slid somewhat recently and it was clear that it was just bed surface.  Without crampons the idea of hiking that in snowboard boots didn't excite me much.  Jen really wanted to do that line, so I decided to dig a pit in the trees and wait.

After a bit over an hour with no radio contact I started to get concerned; even though I hadn't seen an snow, skis, or screaming skiers sliding by me.  I had been beeping and calling on the radio occasionally for the last ten minutes.  I said to myself that if there was no response by 1:05 I would head up after her.  Then with two minutes to spare she skied up between the trees.  Apparently her virtually brand new Motorolla had decided that this was the day to quite transmitting, she could hear me, but couldn't say anything back.  Awesome.
She made it about 3/4 of the way up the couloir before hitting a shelf that ramped to the upper 50s.  Without an axe or crampons she couldn't see a way around it.  The whole upper section was hard and only moterally edgeable.

I decided to try my luck on the zipper, it's snow looked much better, and besides which it's narrower so there for cooler to post about on the internet right? Smiley  As I started into the couloir the wind out of the east was wrapping around and going straight up it.  As the walls narrowed the snow on the surface started to become harder, then turned into a 2-4" slab.  I didn't particularly like this, but the slab itself wasn't very cohesive, it would break into 6-12" pieces.  I decided to press on and evaluate as I went. 
I ended up breaking the upper crust by weighting down on my knee, then kicking forward, then stepping up.  It was extremely slow.  Once I was up in the choke the crust became thick and much harder to break.  I was fighting for every step, hitting up to my waist at times.  I had my helmet on and was getting sweaty.  Frustration level was fairly high.  Then looking up the couloir I could see blue sky, the sun had come out at 2pm and it seemed to be heating up quickly.  Just bellow me to the left a sluff came off one of the cliff walls from above and funneled into the couloir.  It wasn't enough to sweep a person off their feet while riding, but who knows what else was waiting to come off the walls above me.  At that point it was a no brainer, time to GTFO.  I hadn't even made it halfway up, but who cares, I'd prefer to be able to come back another day.
The snow turned out to be great, the hard layer never broke and had decent edge hold.  I decided to just head riders right all the way back out to the valley.

(couloirs wrap around to the left of that rock)

We'll be back with crampons and axes for some corn shortly Cheesy

« Last Edit: 04/10/12, 05:13 PM by ND » Logged

Posts: 48

Re: April 8, 2012, LanePeak Zipper and Fly couloirs
« Reply #1 on: 04/10/12, 07:46 PM »

Great photos!  Thanks for the report.
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