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11/22/17, 07:41 PM

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| | |-+  May 7, 2017, NW Couloir Shuksan update
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Author Topic: May 7, 2017, NW Couloir Shuksan update  (Read 1789 times)
slien
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May 7, 2017, NW Couloir Shuksan update
« on: 05/08/17, 08:41 AM »

Climbed up the NW Couloir route on Sunday hoping to ski back down, but a combination of poor snow conditions and a gaping crack that spans almost the entire width of the couloir about 200' below the rock band near the top made us turn around and high-tail it out of there from about 7000'. If anyone is intent on approaching via the white salmon and descending the NW couloir this Spring - heads up on the crack. Getting around it may be challenging and sketch.
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hedonaut
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Re: May 7, 2017, NW Couloir Shuksan update
« Reply #1 on: 05/08/17, 12:04 PM »

How poor were the conditions?  Slushy, grabby, crusty, icy, what--please elaborate for those unable to get out yesterday...and thanks for the news and report!
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ski_photomatt
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Re: May 7, 2017, NW Couloir Shuksan update
« Reply #2 on: 05/08/17, 01:30 PM »

Ditto - interesting to hear about the crack too.  Is this a new feature? I don't recall seeing / hearing about it previously.
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arb
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Re: May 7, 2017, NW Couloir Shuksan update
« Reply #3 on: 05/08/17, 04:14 PM »

I was out with slien, and to elaborate on the conditions, they were poor in a wide variety of ways that were highly spatially variable.  The snow in the route has not entered any kind of melt-refreze cycle except a hard punchy crust on some portions of the route that is unlike the typical sun crust on transitional snow packs.  To make things more complicated there are runnel features that are probably the results of debris scouring the face over the course of the winter, which have aged into really odd features that start small and get very deep with frozen lumpy lips.  These would be hard to impossible to transit on skis if you got on the wrong side of them, and, it could be hard to realize you were on the wrong side of them until it was too late to ski them. There are frozen lumps embedded throughout.  On top of all of this dry spindrift has been slowly filtering down from above over many, many days and accumulating in both predictable, and unpredictable locations.  Imagine bashing vertical runnels in a cheese grater, tilting it at a 45 degree angle, and pouring powdered sugar on it from above, and you will get an idea.  Bottom line, heterogeneous, and not easily assessed from afar/above.  I'm sure some people could ski the whole thing in the conditions we experienced, and I'm equally sure I will never try.   On another note, the white salmon looked amazingly fun, and the similar aspects we skied on the exit were creamy-dreamy.
« Last Edit: 05/08/17, 04:19 PM by arb » Logged
hedonaut
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Re: May 7, 2017, NW Couloir Shuksan update
« Reply #4 on: 05/08/17, 04:28 PM »

Excellent description of not excellent conditions! Sure doesn't appeal to me.

Interesting that small changes in aspect/exposure yielded big changes in conditions.  Glad you at least got some nice turns.

Please: if you approached via the drop instead of the traverse: how low could you ski into the White Salmon valley before hitting turf?  I.e., how low is the workable snow line? 

Thanks again for sharing the conditions.  I might get a window Wed and am thinking of skiing somewhere...
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arb
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Re: May 7, 2017, NW Couloir Shuksan update
« Reply #5 on: 05/08/17, 05:10 PM »

We skied in via the drop, and were able to ski most of the way into the valley, then had to remove our skis and descend/traverse for about 100 feet, then were able to ski the rest of the way into the valley.  However, a few hundred feet into the descent we had to cross a glide crack that will not have an easy crossing for much longer.  Also, be warned that there are now a wide variety of tacks into and out of the valley, and many of them follow lines that are distinctly cascadian.  I received my annual reminder that a person should not grab onto devil's club whilst front pointing up mud after following one such skin track out of the valley at the end of the day.   
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