Stuart - Ice Cliff Glacier & Stuart Glacier Couloir/nw faceDate:
5/12 -13/2010Trip Report:
Aaron Scott and I skinned up to the high bivy and got some good sleep late Tuesday, a week old sprained ankle thankfully proved painless and not overly swollen for the approach. Thrusday 'morn we booted up the Ice Cliff route - (ropeing up on the glacier). Climbing conditions were generally shin deep with breakable crust, and some sections of powder and hardpack -- the NE aspects were going off - some would dump into the couloir as we climbed -- but would follow a growing runnel. We continued on to the summit from the col, in shin deep sluffy glop -- cutting quite a few lanches on our way down.
Ski Conditions in the Ice Cliff were variable, but mostly quite enjoyable, a scare from the bergshrund aside... We didn't need to rap or downclimb any sections -- a few pick placements with skis on were nessecary for the entrance, the broken glacial section low down was completely covered and really fun to ski. proto corn and mank back to the camp.
Aaron cllimbing in the upper portion
Aaron busts a jump turn on firm snow
Aaron had some work obligations the next day so he skiied out, and I made friends with a grayjay -- who became annoying and slightly dangerous after looseing his fear of humans -- experience gained by - his persistant scavenging.
There were a few loud crashing ice falls/avalanches during the dark hours, and quite a few large PR avys on my skin up to the Stuart Glacier. The Stuart Glacier Couloir route was shaded until late day -- because of it's incut nw faceing nature. Most other aspects were dumping hard. I made an anchor and belayed myself across the bergshrund, but the snow bridge proved solid. Climbing the couloir was a mixed bag, with plenty of powder, but also plenty of knar icy knobby crust. A runnel existed in the center of the couloir, the NW face held glorious powder for it's lower portion, then various crusts higher up. The exposure was intimidateing at times because of its 50dg - variable snow, and a fall would launch one off fatal cliffs. I topped out on the col at the top of the face -- which is the obvious high point for the ski route since nothing but rock and rime exists from there to the summit. The south side was a giant slurpy slide ready to go.
The skiing was meticoulous through the crusty section -- then glorious pow turns for the good snow poriton, I skiied the route without rappels or downclimbing, although a few side steps were called for through the icy runnel section. I've got some video footage that I might post here later.
I packed camp and headed out, going all the way to Bridge Creek CG since my truck had been makeing noises and I wanted to save it from that incline up to the TH.
Here are a bunch of crappyish pics from the descent.
Great skiing wit you Aaron! if you got any cool pics feel free to post 'em.