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| | |-+  Feb 2, Alta Mountain, West Couloir Cliff Out
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Author Topic: Feb 2, Alta Mountain, West Couloir Cliff Out  (Read 2455 times)
markhoroszowski
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Feb 2, Alta Mountain, West Couloir Cliff Out
« on: 02/04/13, 10:57 PM »

In a nutshell:
  • Alta Peak is steep... really steep. With some big exposure. It demands respect, much like Pit Viper sunglasses.
  • All the heavy / rain-logged snow had had slid before we hit the mountains on Saturday morning
  • Snow was firm... really firm. Made for some tough climbing
  • The west couloir did NOT go through... not sure if it ever does... Anybody know if it fills in by spring?
  • We got cliffed out
  • Heavy winds and warming weather had us too uncomfortbale to setting up a two-stage belay, which is what it would take to get over a 15 ft and then 40-ish foot cliff to make it down the rest of the couloir
  • We climbed out of a notch in the side-wall to the North, crossed a couple SKETCHY slide paths, and skied down some gladed 55 degree pitches to get out - sketchy stuff
  • Since we exited on the north side, we had about a 4 mile push back the car with lots of stream crossings - Gold Creek Valley is flat
  • We'd do it again in a hear beat

Jesse (a Folsom Custom Skis pro-rider) and I set out from the car a little before 7am in fog up the Gold Greek trail.

We had no beta other than a map and a rumor that a WWN facing couloir off of Alta Peak had amazing potential. It did.

Like any good ski tour, stream crossing were in abundance. Gold Creek, while super beautiful, is flat. It was a 3-ish mile slog in before the ascent.


We opted to climb the saddle between Rampart Ridge and Alta Peak and then climb along the ridge. Climbing was brutal and filled with the debris in anything that wasn't tree'd


The views alone - let alone a manageable climb outside of huge slidepaths - clearly proved we made the right choice.


The climb up the ridgeline was one of the highlights


We were able to skin almost the entire thing... only a little boot packing on the final 50M


The top had AMAZING views...  (our route along the ridge was from the saddle)
(looking south)


After some wind-scoured ice on top, we found really NICE turns at the top of the couloir


And more good turns


Things got tight... snow got firmer... but the fun was just starting


There is a false cliff-out about 1000 ft down. We though if we could make it through this we'd be good. This part was fun... the next part wasn't


This looking back-up at the first cliff out you could get around on a small ribbon the north side


The cliff out...


The hike out...


Cliff outs happen...


The look back at the upper part of the couloir from our escape route... SO GOOD!


STEEP glade skiing 3 chutes over connected to a ribbon down to the bottom..


Jesse does lots of dead lifts, so he jumped all the way down...


It might not look skiable, but we figure there were at least a couple more lines through the NW side of Alta.


The Alta Mountain West Couloir cliffs out. Here is a view from the bottom...


Alta is home to some WICKED avalanches...


The long slog downhill(???) out of Gold Creek


It's OK. Jesse does dead lifts AND wears Pit Vipers. When couloirs fail, ski the trees...


We made it back a little after sunset.

Long day. Awesome Mountain. Be safe up there.
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-Mark H
ryanl
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Re: Feb 2, Alta Mountain, West Couloir Cliff Out
« Reply #1 on: 02/05/13, 07:14 AM »

Good effort. For future reference, Gold Creek never goes downhill. It's uphill in 4 directions.
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markhoroszowski
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Re: Feb 2, Alta Mountain, West Couloir Cliff Out
« Reply #2 on: 02/05/13, 08:03 AM »

Good effort. For future reference, Gold Creek never goes downhill. It's uphill in 4 directions.
I just checked the topo... Turns out you're correct. Scientists maintain that while the land is uphill in every direction, the flatness of snoqualmie pass creates a vortextual pull on the waters in the valley slowly lulling them south.
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-Mark H
Snoqualmonix
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Re: Feb 2, Alta Mountain, West Couloir Cliff Out
« Reply #3 on: 02/05/13, 09:01 AM »

Superb!  Thanks for the beta photos.

Skinny skis for the valley, heavy gear on the back, have never failed me in deep GC exploration...unless you're THIS guy.

I've tried to be, and I'm not.
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"Point your tips and be brave"

If someone skis in the Cascades and doesn't post on the internet, did it even happen?
markhoroszowski
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Re: Feb 2, Alta Mountain, West Couloir Cliff Out
« Reply #4 on: 02/05/13, 09:31 AM »

Superb!  Thanks for the beta photos.

Skinny skis for the valley, heavy gear on the back, have never failed me in deep GC exploration...unless you're THIS guy.

I've tried to be, and I'm not.
I don't know who THAT guy is, but he's now a legend in my book. Good luck to you in your future attempts at greatness.
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-Mark H
CascadeClimber
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Re: Feb 2, Alta Mountain, West Couloir Cliff Out
« Reply #5 on: 02/05/13, 11:22 AM »

I tried to day-hike up Alta that way one time in August. NOT recommended.
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Not all who wander are lost.
markhoroszowski
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Re: Feb 2, Alta Mountain, West Couloir Cliff Out
« Reply #6 on: 02/05/13, 11:25 AM »

I tried to day-hike up Alta that way one time in August. NOT recommended.
That's aggressive! Alta is super steep from the SW, W, & NW aspects.
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-Mark H
bfree32
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Re: Feb 2, Alta Mountain, West Couloir Cliff Out
« Reply #7 on: 02/05/13, 08:33 PM »

Don't think it ever really goes.

http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=23625.0
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markhoroszowski
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Re: Feb 2, Alta Mountain, West Couloir Cliff Out
« Reply #8 on: 02/05/13, 09:14 PM »

Interesting... also from February. Maybe a chance it could fill on a big snow year as there is definitely some funnel effect that could help fill that in, but it's also super steep so not sure it would compile enough. We had the same concern about hang fire... part of the reason we hiked out of there so fast instead of trying to rig a way with limited rope.

Thanks for sharing this report!
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-Mark H
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