Last weekend started the beginning of one of the greatest parts of ski season… couloir season! To start off, Casey LeFever and I headed off to tame “Shit for Brains,” the 1500 vertical foot, fifty degree couloir just outside of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. We had planned to hit it last year but were shut down twice due to ski patroller interference and conditions, but that just meant that it had to be number one for the year. The icy chute took three hours in total to run and we were back to the car by the time the lifts had just began to turn.
The second couloir of the weekend is known as “Needle in the Haystack” on Haystack Mountain in the Indian Peaks backcountry. Arriving early Saturday morning at the East Portal trailhead with gloomy gray clouds looming above and a slight drizzle left my partner for the trip, Jonny Cromwell (a fellow Snoqualmie skier attending CU), and myself excited about that wonderful Pacific Northwest feeling in the air. As we skinned in, conditions kept getting better and better, and the misty rain quickly changed to light snowfall, and later to mid-January-style dumping snow. Inside the couloir, Jonny set off a small controlled slide and the rest of the couloir felt solid. Low light, dumping snow, and steep skiing all made for an excellent day of spring skiing.
Here are the pics, please enjoy! (for the maps: red = ascent/yellow = descent)
*Maps courtesy of TOPO! by National Geographic and MSRmaps.com