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[TR] Three Fingers - east face couloir 3/9/2013


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Trip: Three Fingers - east face couloir


Date: 3/9/2013


Trip Report:

On days when it's not raining, There's a great view of Three Fingers from eastbound 20 out of Anacortes. Sometime recently I made that drive on one of those days when the sky is fine art. Cool cloud formations and late afternoon sun hit the mountain just right, and got me thinking about going up there for a closer look.


The approach went well, the bush'wackin wasn't very grim, and I made it to my bivy spot by a boulder near the foot of the slope below the east face with time left to kill.


I started my ascent in the dark hours of the morning, and soon my decision to leave skins behind became a nagging regret. The snow went from supportable easy going, to variable knee deep, but with a few healthy curses I made it to the base of the couloir before the sun started really cooking the wall above. Conditions made for slow going up the couloir. To make it easier, I followed the edge of a runnel that hugged climbers right. I kept my head up as much as possible to watch for big sh*t, there was debris coming down everywhere. Most of it small, but I did get bashed a couple times.


The couloir topped out on a high shoulder, and I continued up moderating slopes towards the middle summit. The snow was much different above the shoulder, about a foot of consolidated cold snow overlay an ice crust. The entire ridge line was corniced except for a little notch just right of the rimmed summit nub. I aimed for that notch. I was about about 20 feet below it when I felt and heard a sickening WUMPH. No slab cut out, but It was a clear indication of instability in those final feet below the ridge, and the consequences were high. I backed off a few steps and clicked on the skis.


Ski conditions were good, the slight double fall line nature of the couloir naturally managed my sluff. Timing seemed about right since the sun had softened up the icy parts, and left the couloir just after I skied it, I suppose I could have got started a little earlier to help avoid the ice/rockfall on the climb.



100_2229 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr


Stoked about my new crampons from Jim's shop.


100_2226 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr


John Scurlock photo


John Scurlock image by danhelmstadter, on Flickr


climbing above shoulder


shoulder by danhelmstadter, on Flickr



100_2243 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr



100_2254 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr


morning sunhit


morninglight by danhelmstadter, on Flickr



100_2228 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr





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Bravo! A few friends and I skied half of the couloir in January after being turned around a couple weeks prior due to debris falling from the East Face. Deep snow turned us back midway up the couloir the second time. Both times we tried to do it in a single push, approaching during the night. We resolved to return and make it a two day trip. By chance, my buddy then met a fellow that spends a lot of time in the Squire Creek valley who mentioned that he once ran into a solo skier out there that had just skied it.


Way to execute. Impressive work once again!

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sooo, you skied the east face down??? The 45deg. couloir? what about right above the big boulder in the basin, AND DIRECTLY BELOW THE EXIT OF THE 45 DEG.? ..(used to be called big boulder basin in the late 50,s & 60-90,s...)

WOW, way to go for it!!!!! i have spent a lot of time (days&nights) on the rock, on the N.east face... WALL OF DEATH!

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i do believe the wall of death in this case is the east face that drops from the true summit of 3 fingies, not the aspect a bit further north that dave and john climbed. not to take anything away from your fine effort, but the AFAIK unclimbed wall o'death is a deeper problem to be solved. a bottle the soul to take that thing directly.


as always, way to slay himmelstrafer.

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Nothing cooler than using somebody else's TR to cross-post a link to your own. :wazup::lmao: So amusingly self absorbed.


F'in awesman Dan! Coleman was over today and we were discussing this latest foray of yours. As usual the very thought of it makes my nuts retract :)

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