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MW88888888
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June 11, 2017, Mt Neva (12,814), Juliet Couloir
« on: 06/12/17, 02:35 PM »

Mt Neva (12,814’), Juliet Couloir
June 11, 2017
 
Day 58
 
Mt Neva has always held a special place in my heart.  When I moved to Boulder for graduate school in August of ‘96, it ranked highest on my to do list, chosen from a newly minted “Indian Peaks Descents” guidebook I purchased in NYC.  It would become my first Colorado Backcountry ski objective for a couple of very important reasons:
 
1.      It held year-round snow in the NE bowl and its curious “wind-wave” at its base
2.      It was absolutely not on the radar of the “usual” summer ski destinations as it wasn’t even a 13’er, and this had very high appeal
3.     The trailhead was high and approach short
4.     Said trailhead was on the end of a dirt road I could actually hitch hike to relatively easy to from Boulder, assuming I caught the weekend crowd (I owned no car at the time and the hitch hike up Boulder Canyon in August with a snowboard is wonderful, certain conversation starter, the trek up and back down the 4th of July road a little more uncertain with a 50 lb pack)
 
I had hitch hiked up with a group of day walkers, set up camp, and skied the lower bowl and wind wave the next day, hitch hiking back down to Boulder to start my MBA program.
 
Mt Neva, therefore, started my BC skiing heartbeat here in Colorado and has been the soul of Colorado to me ever since.  I returned in 2001 (this time with my own car!) at the end of June to knock off the summit, and the only good skiing was down the Desdemona couloir as the NE face and Juliet were melted out.  No worries, I knew I would return.  And Desdemona was a fine ski.
 
*
 
Time. 
 
What a harrowing adventure we make of our own lives when we are subservient to the rigors of keeping a schedule and beholden to the whims of nature and our desires.
 
So, while most going to the grocery store may feel at ease with ready response and a quick “half hour”, what an unbelievably complex question I am always faced with The Night Before:
 
“What time will you be home?” [she says, perhaps a little too nicely…

Ok, Michael, don’t screw this up]…

“Ahhhhhh, Noon?” 

“Great”

[Damn!  Why didn’t I say 3!?!?]
 
*
 
At 4 am, as I began the dark walk up the 4th of July trail, my options narrowed to a fine point: Skywalker Couloir on the SW face of South Arapaho would not get enough sun before I needed to descend to be fun; the NE face of Jasper Peak would be too cruel a trip if I got to within 100 feet of the summit and had to turn around due to all the bushwhacking needed to gain the line, while Mt Neva had a fine East face for early morning descents, lines I had not skied and a known egress from the base to get back to the trail, which I always know is a sprint to make my return time.
 
Mt Neva was the best bet, and as I rose in height, the NE face came into view – Juliet, with its fabulous hourglass figure was fat and ready for a descent and became my target for the day.
 
I made quick time and was assembling my crampons and axe on the crest of the wind wave at the base of the climb by 730 am.
 
There was just the trace of a prior boot pack from a previous climber, and that was lucky as when I began to climb, the narrow section was much steeper than the 45 I had originally thought (maybe 50+), the sun had not softened the snow all that much so the narrow hand holds became welcome as the pitch and exposure increased.  Especially on the upper face where there was a slight double fall line and falling rocks, climbers and other debris would bounce heavily against rock walls before going over the cliffs at the midway point.  Wonderful, glorious hand and footholds to exploit with my own axe and claws, from my hanging stereo at my chest the airy sounds of Ledward Kaapana’s steel guitar reverberating around the couloir keeping me company and calming my nerves.  Quite the ironic scene. 
 
Alone, I reached the summit at about 815.  I was not alone long as a very fast, very light AT racer came barreling up my boot pack, followed by another party traveling separately who arrived shortly after.  I had decided to let the sun do as much work as it could on the face and targeted 9 am for departure.  I could not have planned it any better.
 
The upper snowfield allowed a short warm up and test of the snow and after a series of long arcing turns I was in a position above the couloir, looking down the business with just the top couple inches softened and bright sunshine elevating the mood.
 
The snow was just about right as there was minimal sloughing, but the snow soft and carve-able.  At the crux, I had just enough room to make jump turns, the couloir just wide enough, and after a couple exciting moments I was below the crux and cruising out into the wide bowl below wishing the couloir was 1,000 feet longer.
 
I was able to follow skiable snow all the way back to just below the 4th of July mine and after a short skin, regained the trail and was back at the car at 1020 am.  1 hr 20 minutes from summit to car.  They say there is a way following the creek all the way back to the Trailhead…maybe the NE face next time, a little earlier in the year or optionality of retuning later in the day?   Either way, maybe there is a race in there somewhere…time will tell.
 
*
 
I made it home at 1207 pm.  Seven minutes late.  Damn.


* Moon_setting_over_Neva.jpg (85.32 KB, 640x480 - viewed 653 times.)

* Wind_Wave_Lake_Dorothy_and_beyond.JPG (116.21 KB, 640x480 - viewed 654 times.)

* Double_fall_line_fun_on_the_headwall.JPG (106.92 KB, 640x480 - viewed 651 times.)
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: June 11, 2017, Mt Neva (12,814), Juliet Couloir
« Reply #1 on: 06/14/17, 10:15 AM »

Whoa, a rare MW88888888 TR with photos. Thoughtful and compelling as always. Thank you!
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