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[TR] Mt. Shuksan - South Couloir 1/20/2013

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Trip: Mt. Shuksan - South Couloir


Date: 1/20/2013


Trip Report:

I am so happy to be out and about pain free in the mountains again. I've been plagued by a nasty debilitating hip pain since summertime. I tried a bunch of different treatments for it, none seemed to work until I got a shot of cortisone in the bursa at the top of my femur bone a few days ago. Phew.


A couple days before I got the shot, I was taking a lackadaisical drive up the Baker Lake road with my dog. I noticed a striking line on the South side of Shuksan.



south couloir by danhelmstadter, on Flickr


I formed a plan to go explore it - if my hip ever got healthy, which I was doubtful it would.


The first part of the day felt like a familiar Shuksan experience, I got a bit of a late start (but was able to grab a coffee and use the facilities at the White Salmon Lodge), snow was good for travel, good weather etc... I was stoked to run into my friend Russell Cunningham on the White Salmon.


The summit was beautiful, and the pyramid gully skied ok.


summit by danhelmstadter, on Flickr


I was a bit reluctant to start sking towrds the South Couloir for several reasons, and almost wanted to go check out the NW Couloir. But with the thought that I could always turn around (moon + good weather) I proceeded as planed.


I dropped in and enjoyed great springlike snow with some variable in places as to be expected. The couloir is about 2000 vertical feet, and the whole South face about 5500'. Towards the bottom of the couloir the slope steepened then cliffed out. I made a steep downwards traversy scramble on mixed shallow rotten snow, ice, and chossy rock. Luckily the rock had enough solid positive holds. It was scary and felt a little dangerous at times.



scramble by danhelmstadter, on Flickr



100_2150 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr


A bit more steeps after the scramble, then wide open slopes with heavy snow. I stuck to skiers left through the trees for the remaining skiing, to avoid cliffs that lie everywhere else at the bottom.


It was getting dark as I reached the valley at 2000' elevation on the Baker Lake side. I skinned many moonlit hours up to, and over the Shuksan Arm back to my truck at White Salmon.


More Photos...


roll at top of the south face


roll by danhelmstadter, on Flickr


Couloir entrance


couloir entrance by danhelmstadter, on Flickr




zoomer by danhelmstadter, on Flickr




set by danhelmstadter, on Flickr

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The amount of terrain you cover in a push never ceases to amaze me, another first descent?


It was great running into you on your way out of the parking lot yesterday! We were the group of four poking our way up to the White Salmon at a slow clip, and wondered over the past couple of days what you had been up to. We camped up at the top of the Chimneys and followed your tracks today to the summit. Thanks for the steps, and for the great story.


That sunset was spectacular last night, glad you had a chance to enjoy it.

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Nice job Dan. I don't want to put too much pressure on you, but I start to lose hope in everything when you go a few months without skiing. I'll come visit soon.

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Thanks guys!


Jason, it was great running into you guys too! I haven't heard of anyone skiing over there.


Ryan, my hip feels pretty good, a few pops today and some tightness but nothing like before. I'm interested in hearing about your trip to montucky.


Dan, it's been too long bro, your welcome anytime.


Andy, I've got to find my passport! We should get out soon for sure!

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Dan, it was good to meet you up on the WS and I felt silly offering caution on snow conditions after I realized who had just flown past us.


JasonG, I wish I had known that was you in the group of 4, I would have wandered down to the bivy spot to say hi before we cruised down Winnie's. We should get back up there together again soon.

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