Trip: South Early Winter Spire - SW Couloir
I've been wanting to climb this couloir for years. Unfortunately, the last three years have seen me greatly curtail my climbing -- partially due to a motorcycle habit, and partially due to me tearing my ACL and MCL three years ago and never getting back into the swing of things.
There were four of us on this climb -- myself, RH, SG, and JG. We left the trailhead at about 8am, having decided to leave the slowshoes in the car. There was a bunch of postholing through the snow in the trees, but once we got out into the open, the snow firmed up. It was a leisurely approach, and we got to the base of the climb maybe around 10:30, having stopped a few times to enjoy the views:
The lower portion of the route, and the (difficult) left couloir:
Lots of skiers in the basin:
We put on harnesses at the base, but forewent roping up 'cause the climb looked to be in very good shape:
This, despite the fact that JG had crampon issues, and as a result was climbing with just one. Fortunately, JG has impeccable single crampon technique. When we got to the narrow, iced over section, I decided I was going to climb that and put in a fixed line for the others to prusik on.
Another party was rapping down as we were at the crux, so we hammed it up for a group photo:
Above the crux was again easy cruising. We topped out around 1pm, and enjoyed the summit for a while:
We rapped down part-way, past the crux of the ascent, and then downclimbed. I was the last one coming down, and decided that I didn't like downclimbing this one bit, so JG climbed back up with a rope and we rapped down over that. Two double-rope rappels will get you down the entire steep portion of the couloir. The route will likely be out of shape in a week or two. On the way down, many of the rocks that were frozen in place in the morning had melted out, and some were firing down the couloir.
We had some nice glissades on the way out, and headed home. A great day in the mountains.
Brought rock gear but did not place it
Snowshoes were not necessary, but would have been nice for the hike in the trees, and for the hike out.