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Author Topic: May 3, 2008, Tower Mountain, NE Couloir  (Read 5641 times)
Lowell_Skoog
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May 3, 2008, Tower Mountain, NE Couloir
« on: 05/04/08, 10:37 AM »



Aerial photograph of Tower Mountain with the NE Couloir at right. Photo by John Scurlock, used with permission.


On Saturday morning, Tom Janisch drove from Wenatchee and I drove from Seattle and we met at Rainy Pass. We placed cars on either side of the Cascade Crest then started skiing up Swamp Creek.  The clouds were thinning to reveal blue holes with filtered sunshine, so it promised to be a nice day.  The snow quality varied with aspect and elevation. We found walkable crust in places, soft mush in others.  Overall the conditions were better than I expected after a night of clouds with a light freeze.  We left our skis at the base of the West Face of Tower Mountain and scrambled to the summit on crampons.  The climbing proved easier than it looked from below. Near the summit, hidden ramps bypassed the steep snow and rock bands that had concerned us on the approach.



Far left: Tom scrambles to the summit of Tower Mountain. Center left: Snow cornices perch over the NE Face. Center right: Lowell rappels into the NE Couloir. Far right: Tom pulls the rope after rappeling into the NE Couloir. (Click photos for larger images.)


After returning to our skis, we climbed a snow gully leading to the top of the NE Couloir.  I didn't know that this couloir existed until I checked out John Scurlock's website while planning this trip.  The gully didn't look too steep in John's picture (above) but I expected a cornice at the top, so we carried a light rope and rappel gear.  At the notch, we found the north side draped with snow flutes and mushrooms, like fluffy meringue.  The cornice wasn't too big and the couloir below looked moderate.  We were glad the day was not too hot. It started to snow a little.  We looped a sling around a rock horn and I lent Tom my camera for a picture as I dropped over the edge.  Wallowing in soft powder, I swarmed over a snow mushroom then moved to the side after touching down.



Tom Janisch skis the NE Couloir of Tower Mountain.


Tom joined me and we put our skis back on and pulled down the rope.  We found old powder in the couloir, not super light but with no crust and quite skiable.  The couloir was wide, providing plenty of room for turns.  The setting was grand but it was snowing vigorously now, which obscured the view somewhat in my photos.  After descending about 1000 feet, the couloir opened onto broad slopes below the NE Face of Tower Mountain.  We descended into Cataract Creek, skinned to the pass with Pine Creek, then skied down Pine Creek to our second car at the Lone Fir campground.



Tom Janisch skis below the NE Face of Tower Mountain.



-----
Edited to correct our finishing point. Should be Lone Fir campground not Early Winters campground.
« Last Edit: 07/23/12, 07:43 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
Stugie
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Re: May 3, 2008, Tower Mountain, NE Couloir
« Reply #1 on: 05/04/08, 11:57 AM »

Bravo!  Definitely showing the true elements of ski mountaineering!  A lot of people climb and ski stuff - way to do it right.  Nice tr and great pics!
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"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals; the houses where I practice my religion." - Anatoli Boukreev
jwplotz
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Re: May 3, 2008, Tower Mountain, NE Couloir
« Reply #2 on: 05/04/08, 07:37 PM »

Yee-haba!  Tom, turning 50 never felt so fun, eh?  You guys are animals.
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jd
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Re: May 3, 2008, Tower Mountain, NE Couloir
« Reply #3 on: 05/05/08, 08:30 AM »

Sweet. Scurlock's great pictures find another gem, good work going after it. Nice photos on your part too (I love the one of you raping in - true ski alpinism). Thanks for the report.
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Marcus
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Re: May 3, 2008, Tower Mountain, NE Couloir
« Reply #4 on: 05/05/08, 09:09 AM »

Nice TR Lowell, thanks for posting -- beautiful line, great style getting it done.  Fun pictures too.
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Tony_Bentley
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Re: May 3, 2008, Tower Mountain, NE Couloir
« Reply #5 on: 05/05/08, 09:11 AM »

Quote
I didn't know that this couloir existed until I checked out John Scurlock's website while planning this trip.


Hahaha. Nice Lowell. I may have heard that quote before. In fact, I'm thinking of a bumper sticker. Grin
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: May 3, 2008, Tower Mountain, NE Couloir
« Reply #6 on: 05/05/08, 11:38 AM »

How cool. Thanks be to the eye in the sky, and bravo for the excellent execution!
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skierguitarist
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Re: May 3, 2008, Tower Mountain, NE Couloir
« Reply #7 on: 05/06/08, 11:31 AM »

Way to go... that looks like a gem!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Paul_Russell
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Re: May 3, 2008, Tower Mountain, NE Couloir
« Reply #8 on: 05/06/08, 12:50 PM »

Nice trip Lowell.  Thanks for the post.  I was wondering where you guys might be on Sat, and looked across at Tower over the weekend thinking it would nice to get in there to ski.   I was at the Freestone Inn and noticed a map of the heli runs they do which include that area.  I was really amazed at the number of places they go.
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philfort
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Re: May 3, 2008, Tower Mountain, NE Couloir
« Reply #9 on: 05/06/08, 02:26 PM »

I was really amazed at the number of places they go.

Yeah, they leave their orange landing markers everywhere too.
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Stefan
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Re: May 3, 2008, Tower Mountain, NE Couloir
« Reply #10 on: 05/06/08, 04:03 PM »

awesome trip thanks for sharing
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