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| | |-+  may 13, 2017, The Elevator Shaft Couloir, Colorado
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Author Topic: may 13, 2017, The Elevator Shaft Couloir, Colorado  (Read 1139 times)
MW88888888
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may 13, 2017, The Elevator Shaft Couloir, Colorado
« on: 05/15/17, 04:55 PM »

Day 52
The Elevator Shaft Couloir, Hallets, RMNP

920AM

I drop in maybe an hour past the couloir’s prime.  The lower parts of the couloir and the apron at least. 

On the upper face, above the 100’ cliffs and the ‘warm up' slope before the business of the couloir, it was perfectly smooth velvet corn, sometimes with a very prominent layer of fun verglas we turn-lovers crave.  Skiers know what I’m talking about - the perfect elixir of the spring gods, a velvet corn stew of 1/4” of unfrozen verglas over a soft 4” corn strata on a hardening sub-base.  On the up, after the night has done its work, this verglas/corn combo provided easy boot steps for fast travel, and a “tinkling” shattering sound as the verglas breaks away from the soft corn below.  On the descent, the 'glass can be some of the more interesting corn skiing to experience.  In the PNW you can find thousands of vertical feet of exotic corn skiing, especially on the volcanoes.  It is much harder to find in large quantities in Colorado.  In Colorado, this choice velvet is found at alpine and best in large quantities in the fair skiing month of May, and this May was no exception.  Today, this smooth delight meant the best skiing was at the very top.  For this rare treat, I was willing to accept my fate in the bowels of the couloir and the lower apron.     

From the rocky ridge leading to Hallet’s summit, (no continuous ski today, so I skip it, choosing to ski the ever changing couloir below before it spoils) I swing turns down the ever steepening face and find smooth velvet on the hanging snowfield right above the entrance. I carve a wide and rising heal side turn and perch myself above the left top entrance - this ski cuts the slope (it’s solid) and releases the top 2 inches into the couloir and forms a slow moving python as the new slough merges with the slowly forming runnel in the center of the couloir.  The narrow couloir itself looks wonderful, but requires careful slough management. 

Leaning into the fall line, I carve a few turns racing ahead of the slough waves, jumping over the river from side to side - I remember my brother’s comments on why surfing is so hard - because unlike snowboarding, the medium you’re surfing is moving too, adding a whole new layer of complexities to balance, motion and physics.  As I cross the slow river these comments come back. I stop along the narrow couloir walls in convenient shelves I worked out from above in protected spots and let the waves slide past so as not to catch me off balance as I set up each pause.  It is a slower descent than I anticipated, but necessary for full enjoyment and I’m down through the narrows and ripping the big face below in no time.  A little sloppy and grabby in spots, but I’m able to see where the smooth snow signals enjoyable turns and I cruise the balance of the slope to the depression at the bottom where I’ll need to portage to complete the descent.

Once at Lake Hiayaha I decide to call it and put the board on my pack for the rest of the walk out, the snow too past its prime for safety and enjoyment for a run in the lower Mario gully.   On the walk out I meet the first of the morning hikers around the tricky, dangerous traverses above Dream lake.


* a_elevator_shaft_couloir_coming_into_the_morning_sun.jpg (116.51 KB, 640x480 - viewed 594 times.)

* B_Longs_peak_north_face_glows_to_the_south.jpg (108.21 KB, 640x479 - viewed 590 times.)

* c_Looking_down_the_elevator_shaft_couloir.jpg (114.18 KB, 640x480 - viewed 592 times.)
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RonL
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Re: may 13, 2017, The Elevator Shaft Couloir, Colorado
« Reply #1 on: 05/16/17, 07:29 AM »

That looks like a lot of fun to drop into.
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