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| | |-+  May 30, 31 2012. Maple Leaf Couloir & Lyle Glacier
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Author Topic: May 30, 31 2012. Maple Leaf Couloir & Lyle Glacier  (Read 1118 times)

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May 30, 31 2012. Maple Leaf Couloir & Lyle Glacier
« on: 06/08/12, 07:09 PM »

Spent two days on Rt 20 looking for good skiing and technical lines.  It being my first time up there in the winter, I didn't need to look far -- opportunities for 2,500ft runs are endless!  I approached this as an opportunity to better understand the lay of the land.

My partner, Peter Dale, and I started at Blue Lake TH and made the warm spring climb to the col.  After skiing the fast, open and carveable corn down from the Blue Col, we deviated from the Birthday tour by climbing Copper.  The mid section of the ascent was the trickiest part as the ridge ascent was rocky and bad for boot packing due to deep melt outs around the warm rocks. 

Both faces to the north and west of the ridge looked difficult to skin -- steep and manky.  We opted for the north, which was combination of tenuous steep angle skinning and booting.  Once up high, attaining the summit was easy.  Following the summit ridge south we entered the 25 foot-wide entrance to the Maple Leaf couloir.

  From this point our eyes were caught by a long couloir on the opposite side of the basin below us.  The ribbon of snow coming from the top of an unnamed point on the southern terminus of Kangaroo Ridge beckoned our desires.  We'd head there next.

The entrance was a bit intimidating with a 3-4 foot broken (safe) cornice drop.  It looked like someone had boot-packed almost to the top and decided to put skis on before topping out.  The upper chute had a great 45 deg. pitch but the snow had slid and been side slipped by a more conservative skier.  The gouges in the slot made for difficult skiing, but after about 250 vert it opened into the body of the leaf, where faster and bigger turns were made.  Evidence of wet releases on surface were abundant.

Replacing the skins on our skis we pushed for the next objective, another 1,600 feet above us.  A combination of skinning and boot packing, both on snow and rock, eventually got us to the high point after and 1 hour and 15 minutes. 

We navigated the fall line down by following partially melted out walls, leaving us off-camber walls and tight pinches to ski through.  It went flawlessly as planned.  One more climb over a ridge and this tour ended around 7pm at Washington Pass.

Day two started with less ambition due to wet stuff falling out of the sky.  We roused from the road-side tent and started skinning up to Rainy Lake, still frozen and crossable. 

With the frequent ice, rock and water falling from all sides of the Rainy Lake Falls area, we needed to use skill and confidence to find a safe route up and onto Lyle Glacier and possibly Frisco Peak.  1,000 feet of boot packing up a dirty rock slide path in the snow got us up quickly and out of harm's way. 

We put our skis on once above the falls area and traversed east to access the middle approach line of the glacier.  The coverage was excellent and lacked any glide and crack openings.  Straight-forward skinning up to 6,600 feet took us into stormy alpine weather, complete with the classic Cascade wet and warm mountain experience.  Consistent significant sized mixed slides from the upper Frisco ridge avalanched from above, confirming that we would not be moving to higher ground that day.

The ski from the rocky outcropping a few hundred feet below Frisco Peak to the lake was enjoyable and dynamic.  One or two routes exist on the benches of Rainy Falls, but due to the active instability, we followed our up-track back down.

Great spots, great skiing.  Appears many lines will grab hold of the skier's mind for potential adventures during the next couple weeks until only the deeper snowpack areas will be available for touring.

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