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Author Topic: May 18/19 2012 Dragontail via Pandoras Box Couloir  (Read 3401 times)
Cornfed
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May 18/19 2012 Dragontail via Pandoras Box Couloir
« on: 05/21/12, 09:54 PM »

Third time is a charm.  After canceling twice due to warm conditions and a closed gate (despite no snow on the road) the Ranger's finally confirmed what we suspected (the road was snow free).  Gate open and cooler (but still clear) weather had 2 days left to run.  We took a leisurely departure from Seattle on Friday and arrived late morning via a snow free road to a trailhead with NO snow.  Fortunately, we both brought footwear sufficient to boot pack all the way to Colchuck Lake despite intermittent snow.

2/3 of the way there, Mike started to swear, and later admitted that he'd forgot tent poles -- looks like a bivy under the tent. 

We reached the lake after 3 hours of exhausting post-holing through the snow we did encounter.  Every time we were encouraged to skin, we'd hit a long stretch of rocks and dirt.  Folks were crossing the lake, but we decided to hike along the lake (still carrying skis) to avoid a late afternoon dip.  Our destination was 900' higher on the Colchuck Morraine.  Clear skies and cold enough to freeze the water we'd melted the night before.  Puddles on the Lake were also re-frozen.

Pandora's Box Couloir is reachable from the col between Dragontail and Colchuck.  We skinned about half-way and switched to carrying skis the 2nd half, which was a good call with really good cramponing.  Pandora's box couloir is steep - I'd say it goes as steep as 45 degrees.  Again, super good cramponing and fairly secure, but steep enough to get your attention.

The summit is a col between two higher rocks and is a cool knife edge just below the actual elevation of Dragontail.  I volunteered to cut a couple of ledges so that we could clip into our skis.

Due to family obligations, I was due in Seattle by 5pm (this prevented ideal skiing time).  We dropped into the couloir at 10am - just as the sun was starting to hit it.  1-2 hours later would have been ideal.  We could get an edge, but it was hard crust.  500' below the summit, I popped a ski - not good.  I slid 200' on steep terrain while trying to dig in my other ski, which was only digging into the loose ski underneath.  I lifted my good ski long enough for the loose ski to slip away and managed to stop - whew!  The loose ski stopped only 100' lower near a rock outcrop where i re-grouped and clipped back in.  The same ski popped two more times - this time on safer terrain.  Feeling like a moron, I carried the ski and traversed over to the Dragontail/ Colchuck Col.  All this time, Mike was more supportive than I deserved.

Upon closer inspection, I realized I was about to lose the boot grommet that clips into the Dynafit binding.  Feeling less of a moron, I now contemplated skiing from 8100 feet to 5500 feet on one ski.  I clipped in one more time and locked the binding into tour mode.  40 feet down the grommet completely blows - damn.  My left leg got a great workout side slipping the next 1700 feet.  At camp, we got McGyver and used duct tape to re-built the front binding.  It worked!  I even salvaged a few nice turns near the lake for 900 feet of corn skiing.  Having two skis felt better on the soft lake crossing.

2 hours and 10 minutes from the end of the lake to the cars.



* DSC06055.JPG (144.48 KB, 640x480 - viewed 1444 times.)

* DSC06066.JPG (137.21 KB, 640x480 - viewed 1455 times.)

* Pandora_5.jpg (71.51 KB, 764x573 - viewed 1452 times.)
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Jeff Huber
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Re: May 18/19 2012 Dragontail via Pandoras Box Couloir
« Reply #1 on: 05/21/12, 10:01 PM »

Nice TR. On this:

Upon closer inspection, I realized I was about to lose the boot grommet that clips into the Dynafit binding. 

Which boots were they?
« Last Edit: 05/22/12, 09:50 AM by Jeff Huber » Logged

samthaman
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Re: May 18/19 2012 Dragontail via Pandoras Box Couloir
« Reply #2 on: 05/22/12, 09:24 AM »

nice work guys, i was the exhausted solo guy you passed on the way in.
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Jonathan_S.
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Re: May 18/19 2012 Dragontail via Pandoras Box Couloir
« Reply #3 on: 05/22/12, 11:30 AM »

Which boots were they?

Looks like an old Dynafit TLT 700?
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My various "Tech" bindings are powered by Gu.
Norseman
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Posts: 213


Re: May 18/19 2012 Dragontail via Pandoras Box Couloir
« Reply #4 on: 05/22/12, 08:54 PM »

I made it up that direction as well that day.


* Colchuck_Col_4.jpg (256.86 KB, 650x344 - viewed 989 times.)

* Colchuck_Lake_6.jpg (259.83 KB, 575x392 - viewed 988 times.)
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alecapone
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Re: May 18/19 2012 Dragontail via Pandoras Box Couloir
« Reply #5 on: 05/23/12, 09:02 AM »

Nice!

Curious what is going on with your boots? I have the same tlt 700's given to me by Marcus. The toe grommets(?) Look a little skewed. 

Any after pics?
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scott
Cornfed
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Re: May 18/19 2012 Dragontail via Pandoras Box Couloir
« Reply #6 on: 05/24/12, 09:05 AM »

nice work guys, i was the exhausted solo guy you passed on the way in.

Funny thing is that Mike and I bantered for about an hour after we passed you thinking you had said "We" and seeing no partner, we couldn't figure out where the "we" was.  Good to know you were in fact solo.

The boots are the TLT 700 - I've had them about 5-6 years with 10-20 days/ year.  The grommet that holds the pin on the Dynafit binding blew out of the boot.  Since they appear to be molded into the boot, I think it was the swan song for those boots.  I'd have used them for a few more years, but the liners kind of stink and the plastic buckels are starting to break -- I'll always buy metal clips in the future -- so maybe a new set of boots.

Here is a pictuer of the boot (minus the tape).


* Broken_Dynafit_TLT_700.JPG (83.84 KB, 640x480 - viewed 592 times.)
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