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Author Topic: December 28, 2012 Colchuck NW Face to NBC  (Read 3574 times)
jwplotz
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December 28, 2012 Colchuck NW Face to NBC
« on: 12/28/12, 10:16 PM »

I'm still too adrenalized to sleep, so I may as well submit a report on this descent.  Colchuck's Northwest Face to North Buttress Couloir has been high on my list to ski.  Ever since reading Josh Hummel taking a tumble on the upper face and living to tell about it, I've been intrigued. 

Scott McCallister and I skied the Colchuck's NBC a couple years ago, but postholing up the NBC, we didn't have the energy to connect the NWF.  Despite this, it was still an outstanding couloir in great conditions.

So, I've noticed that all the Eastside snow that's fallen has been cold and dry, with little wind.  From what I've observed, there are no nasty crust layers yet, either.  The few times I've gone out, I've had no concerns for stability, as opposed to the last two years.  It's been relatively mild in the valley, and has stayed cold up high, but not too cold.  The snow is perfect, yet there's no ice to climb in L-town yet.  In comparison, last year we were tooling around on Hubba Hubba and Rainbow Falls in fat conditions.  In short, the conditions have been ideal in my head anyway, for a more committing line.  So why not stretch the legs on Colchuck's NW Face to NBC?

A huge thanks to a couple people.  Leavenworth Mountain Sports for starters, for giving me a great deal on new Dynafit skins (Manaslu's).  They are noticeably lighter than my previous skins, the BD Ascensions.  Better glide, and I didn't have to fit them to my skis.  Just take out of the box and start skinning. 

Second, huge thanks to Kevin O. and company for beating a trail up to the lake sometime last week.  It saved me a ton of energy and time.  However, his skin track disappears at the lake, most likely blown over.  So, there's a nice track leading up to Colchuck Col, and a nice boot path leading up to the summit of Colchuck.

I called a couple people to join me, but couldn't get any takers, which is fine.  It allows me to stay inside my head the whole day.  My ipod shuffle kept me company.

I started at 7:20am from Icicle Rd., and got to the Col in appx 7 hours, and the summit of Colchuck by 3:45 pm.  Skinning in the shade all day, I broke the Col to brilliant sunshine that was actually warm.  I would have been satisfied with that small reward, but decided to move on.

When solo and considering a committing descent, I always waver, my mind convincing me that I'm gonna die for sure.  With a good partner, it's usually easier to suss out the pros and cons of a descent, more or less objectively, and can feed off each other's optimism, or reluctance. 

I got to Colchuck's summit and couldn't see the entrance to the NWF.  However, I could see the perimeter of it lower down, and saw that it was very nicely filled in.  With some sketchy downclimbing on snowed-over rock, I stomped out a nice ledge to prepare, not entirely sure it was the right decision.  I skied over to the entrance choke to the NWF and was relieved to see that there were very few exposed rocks. 

The NWF is sustained steep at the top.  And that powder I sprayed about earlier, well, yes, it was plastered to the upper face.  I have to say it was the best steep powder run I've ever had.  Small rock outcrops were easily navigated, and the entrance to the NBC is simple to spot. 

The NBC was just as good as the upper face.  There was an exposed rock step 2/3 of the way down that I picked my way through, but that was the only difficulty.  The rest was powder turning at a great pitch.  The ski down to the lake didn't disappoint either!

Photos...

Into the cold forest.


There's a bridge under there somewhere.  Coverage is obviously good.


Bev Doolittle-esque trees.


Colchuck and the NWF on the right skyline.


The NBC on the right.


It was a brilliant day at the Col.


Argonaut and beyond.


Stuart and Sherpa.


The upper NW Face of Colchuck.


Looking back up at the entrance roll-over.


Your reward for surviving the upper NW Face.  The NBC.


My union mandated lunch afterwards.  Via's are brilliant.
« Last Edit: 12/28/12, 10:47 PM by jwplotz » Logged
PowderHounder
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Posts: 2


Re: December 28, 2012 Colchuck NW Face to NBC
« Reply #1 on: 12/28/12, 11:03 PM »

How in the hell did you make it back to your car with your balls dragging in the snow behind you! Nice work man!
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mosetick
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Re: December 28, 2012 Colchuck NW Face to NBC
« Reply #2 on: 12/29/12, 12:17 AM »

Wow. Congrats on achieving this solo. Impressive photos and great TR! And I must say, excellent timing too! This is one to be remembered for sure...
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andybrnr
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Posts: 92


Re: December 28, 2012 Colchuck NW Face to NBC
« Reply #3 on: 12/29/12, 03:43 AM »

Nice solo effort; way to make it in a single push, too. TR makes me want to go ski this line again... last time I lost a pole at the top of the face, which made the remainder of the trip a little more interesting...
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alecapone
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Re: December 28, 2012 Colchuck NW Face to NBC
« Reply #4 on: 12/29/12, 06:36 AM »

A+ trip John!

Awesomse effort, and even better rewards.

That upper face looks exhilerating!















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scott
cumulus
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Re: December 28, 2012 Colchuck NW Face to NBC
« Reply #5 on: 12/29/12, 07:25 AM »

nice one John!


ps: I'm keeping an eye out for a crystal ball. Let me know if you run across any good deals.   doesn't have to be union


also: bridge pic: A+; sexy
« Last Edit: 12/29/12, 07:30 AM by cumulus » Logged

Stefan
jwplotz
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Re: December 28, 2012 Colchuck NW Face to NBC
« Reply #6 on: 12/29/12, 08:33 AM »

Thanks!

As an aside, the coverage is so good right now, the run from the lake back down to the trail junction was a legitimate powder run. I can't tell you how many times I've had to down skin that portion because the trail was an iced out pile of crap. 
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Jason_H.
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Re: December 28, 2012 Colchuck NW Face to NBC
« Reply #7 on: 12/29/12, 08:40 AM »

Way to go John. Very cool. I remember watching Josh fall down that face. Still surprised to this day that he pulled it together. One of my all time fav routes. It has a little bit of everything.
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jwplotz
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Re: December 28, 2012 Colchuck NW Face to NBC
« Reply #8 on: 12/29/12, 08:43 AM »

Nice solo effort; way to make it in a single push, too. TR makes me want to go ski this line again... last time I lost a pole at the top of the face, which made the remainder of the trip a little more interesting...

Ah, so this must be you. I read this earlier in the week for inspiration: trip report 
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jwplotz
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Re: December 28, 2012 Colchuck NW Face to NBC
« Reply #9 on: 12/29/12, 08:57 AM »

Way to go John. Very cool. I remember watching Josh fall down that face. Still surprised to this day that he pulled it together. One of my all time fav routes. It has a little bit of everything.

Thanks. I agree, it is one of the best descents in the area, at least in my  limited experience.    If you hike around and drop in from the top like I did this time, it's a remarkable contrast in aspects.  I would ski this one again!
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skykilo
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Re: December 28, 2012 Colchuck NW Face to NBC
« Reply #10 on: 12/31/12, 12:32 PM »

Must have been a great high from this one, congrats. 

Someone was just telling me second-hand that the Wenatchee Mountains have an extremely large snowpack for this point in the season, which certainly jives with skiing this line.  The idea of skiing a line like that in the Stuart Range at this time of year by default loads three ASCII bytes (WTF) onto the heap in my head; way to capitalize.
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ryanl
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Re: December 28, 2012 Colchuck NW Face to NBC
« Reply #11 on: 12/31/12, 09:25 PM »

Great one Fat Bastard! you read my mind on this one.  I was hoping to get on that as soon as the weather broke, but alas, the weather broke during my trip to southern California. Nice to read about another of your always inspiring trips
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