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| | |-+  May 11, 13, CJ couloir Mount Johannesburg attempt
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Author Topic: May 11, 13, CJ couloir Mount Johannesburg attempt  (Read 3008 times)
ND
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May 11, 13, CJ couloir Mount Johannesburg attempt
« on: 05/13/13, 06:07 PM »

Sometimes you make a great plan, the conditions are perfect, the approach is easy, and everything is right when the world.

Other times you're an idiot, the approach is ridiculous, snow is questionable, and you are left questioning your sanity. 

Saturday was not one of the former.

With the hot weather from this week I wanted to stick to something that didn't get direct sun.  I decided that CJ fit the bill perfectly, it faces north and the walls of Cascade and Johannesburg should have given shade also.  I *hoped* that the intense heat and sun would have left little snow behind to slide.

Brian and I left Seattle at 3am and met up with Ilia in Marblemount around 5:20.  We drove out to the gate and loaded up all our gear on the packs deciding to hike in trail runners on the melted road.  As we went up the road mentioning the decided lack of snow anywhere.  Somehow we decided that there would be no snow up at the summer lot (because the road can't be closed for a reason).  We also assumed there would be a creek opened up, and we would have no downed trees available to make a bridge that far up the valley. 

This is when keeping it real got dumb.  We decided to just cross the valley now.  The *first* creek crossing was easily negotiated, we made a bridge with three logs, and only fell in the creek once! 
It got no better after this, multiple creeks were crossed and much alder was cursed.  Then we got to a point where we could see up the valley.........to the wide open snow field that goes right from the road at the switchback and straight across the valley.  We are so dumb.  It was also at this point that Brian realized a snowboard boot had come off his binding in the alder somewhere.  He ran back while Ilia and I dried our socks.  The boot was recovered quickly and we switched to touring for a bit. 

Touring proved quite difficult in the weeks avy debris, I was quite envious of Ilia's ski crampons.  Upon getting to the base of the CJ couloir we left our skins and shoes on rocks to dry out and switched to crampons.  We looked at the weeks slide paths and discussed the approach more.  It was clear that large slides had come down Johannesburg during the week, but there was still a good sized cornice above the couloir to the right of CJ, but it had a defined path that didn't cross our route.  Also we had only heard one rock fall and seen no slide activity all day.  We decided to stay climbers left of the large gulley created by slides ealier in the week and that we would cross the crux one at a time.

We spread out a bit and started up toward the crux.  As Brian got up to the crux we heard a rumble, looking up on Johannesburg we saw a small slide coming off a cliff and into the path on the other side of rocks to climbers right.  I caught up to Ilia and just as we started to discuss turning back I heard a LARGE rumble.  We looked up to see a very large wall of white coming off Johannesburg.  It hit the slope bellow and this time it was large enough that some of it was shooting past the large slide path climbers right of the rocks......and into the crux of CJ.  Even though we were a good distance away from the slide path we still RAN further from it.  All the snow stayed contained in the gully that was formed by slides earlier in the week and was moving at a decent speed for a wet slide.  There were also rocks.  The possibility of severe injury was obvious.  We got our gear on, rode down to grab out skins and shoes, and then took a couple hundred vertical feet of rock solid debris out to the valley.  The slide that had just occurred only went out about a quarter of the distance that slides earlier in the week had.  I can't imagine the magnitude of what Jason and Kyle saw.

Once in the valley we had lunch and decided to do a lap on the mellow part of cascade pass to salvage something of the day.
We left our axes, shoes, and helmets near the road.  The tour up cascades pass was uneventful, other then seeing a constant shedding of snow from Cascade.  The turns were a bit gloppy but still enjoyable.  The 2 mile hike out was nice and easy, we decided to stay on the road this time and out of the alders Wink


* distance.JPG (133.46 KB, 480x640 - viewed 1501 times.)

* bridge.JPG (204.61 KB, 508x800 - viewed 1493 times.)

* creek.JPG (134.76 KB, 480x640 - viewed 1492 times.)
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ND
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Re: May 11, 13, CJ couloir Mount Johannesburg attempt
« Reply #1 on: 05/14/13, 08:36 AM »

a couple more pics


* cj_runout.JPG (201.28 KB, 591x800 - viewed 1242 times.)

* cj_crux_before_slide.JPG (198.59 KB, 960x720 - viewed 1234 times.)
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ND
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Re: May 11, 13, CJ couloir Mount Johannesburg attempt
« Reply #2 on: 05/14/13, 08:38 AM »

A photo from down bellow of the larger side path climbers right.

The wonderful diagram of the slide path was done by Brian, I don't think that anything came from that couloir lookers left though.


* back_down_at_gear_looking_at_slide_path_climbers_right.JPG (237.93 KB, 600x800 - viewed 1247 times.)

* brians_slide_path_diagram_with_arrows.JPG (128.85 KB, 640x468 - viewed 1212 times.)
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alecapone
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Re: May 11, 13, CJ couloir Mount Johannesburg attempt
« Reply #3 on: 05/21/13, 11:58 AM »

Ouch!

Not trying to arm chair but on a very simular weather day a couple springs ago I watched(from the road) two big avis come down the cj. One about 10 am, and avery large one around three.

The cooly itself might not get sun, but the snowfields that feed into it do.

Have video and photos somewhere.

Glad you managed.
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scott
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Re: May 11, 13, CJ couloir Mount Johannesburg attempt
« Reply #4 on: 05/21/13, 05:09 PM »

Armchair away! Smiley  I'm not going to disagree with you, there is serious potential in the bottom section of that couloir and I don't think I'd ever assume it was completely "safe" any time of year.

We figured that with the extreme heat and sun during the week the heavily loaded snow would have gone already.  The big stuff had, comparing runout sizes what we witnessed was far less then a 1/4 of what happened earlier in the week.  It was still enough to hurt someone though that's for sure.  I'm glad none of us were getting through the crux when it went.
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alecapone
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Re: May 11, 13, CJ couloir Mount Johannesburg attempt
« Reply #5 on: 05/21/13, 05:45 PM »

well, you where there, i wasn't. on sight observations trump some tool on the internet. besides, I'm the last guy who should be giving safety lectures. Wink 

you are observations are correct though. looking at my photo, there looks like there was more snow. this was the morning one. still cant find the bigger one from the afternoon that i think came from the cascade side.


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scott
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Re: May 11, 13, CJ couloir Mount Johannesburg attempt
« Reply #6 on: 05/21/13, 07:51 PM »

Get going earlier...
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ND
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Re: May 11, 13, CJ couloir Mount Johannesburg attempt
« Reply #7 on: 05/22/13, 11:11 AM »

Holy crap that was a big one!  Yeah what we saw was nothing close to that magnitude.  The portion that made it's way over to CJ was enough to knock a person off their feet if they were in the trough for some reason, but not massive.  It was the rocks that scared me.

We did start plenty early, we just had piss poor route planning.  Had we of just followed the road to the switch back we would have topped out and been down long before this. 
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Stugie
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Re: May 11, 13, CJ couloir Mount Johannesburg attempt
« Reply #8 on: 05/22/13, 02:05 PM »

Scotty, I still have your pics from when you took them of the avy a couple years ago that swept the whole thing.

After Kyle and I hit the CJ (which was NOT the plan for that day, we just kind of went spur of the moment), it will make you reconsider your approach to ski mountaineering.  Period.  What a line though. Wink
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