| Huron Spring Ski Descent: East Face NE Couloir
Rockdale Trailhead 9,986'
Dawson's East Face Route
Ski Descent of East Face NE couloir
-Elevation Climbed: 4,100'
-Vert skied: 4,000'
-Mileage RT: 10 miles
Back at it again, Fritz and I set out for the hills Thursday night. After arriving at the trailhead at 11:45pm, we realized the sleds in tow behind my truck were never going to leave the trailer. The stream crossing at the beginning of the 4WD road was choked full of collapsible ice and beyond the road was dry for a good half mile. It seems the sleds have mostly just been a pain in my ass this year. Hopefully next year some of the lessons I have learned will improve my luck with them. Here is a picture of the road through the stream taken the next day…
The steam crossing
We built a log crossing for the next morning and hit the sack. After a hot breakfast, we were on the trail by 5am. The moon and stars made for a bright night.
Fritz crossing the steam
We made great time up the 2.5 miles and 1000 vert to Cloyses lake. The road is mostly snow covered, with several rock sections. Its pretty flat and easy going. We skinned across the lake and began the climb up into the basin below Huron's East face. The terrain through the trees is steep and riddled with deadfall. It takes some thinking to find a good way up this area but once above the trees, the route is simple.
Frtiz breaks treeline below steep mountain walls
This basin is the most impressive I have seen in the Sawatch. Steep walls with flutes of snow mimic something from Alaska. Its beautiful…
The stunning basin to Huron's East
We opted to boot up a wide couloir to the North of Huron's summit. En route to the base of the booting, we got a great preview of our line.
Skinning below our goal
The wide couloir we used to reach Huron's North ridge
The boot up the couloir really threw me for a loop. The solar intensity was off the charts which reaked havoc on my mental focus. I struggled up the slope occasionally post holing into rotten snow around hidden boulders. Keeping in the ideal snow for booting (3 inches of corn on solid base) was as simple as stepping a few feet to climbers left onto more northeast facing terrain. Its amazing how much a few degrees on the compass can affect snow behavior. The slope maxed out at 44 degrees. The final section of ridgeline to the summit went fairly quickly.
Looking down the North ridge of Huron
The summit was perfect…
Huron's snow capped summit
…and the view of our line was just sick.
Looking down our line
Fritz is a great partner. He is always up to check the snow stability out and he knows his stuff. Everyday out with him is a learning experience. Did I mention he takes sweet pics too? This was my favorite ski descent to date for me, it was off the hook. The line started out on a fluted ridge which was heavily exposed straight down the mountain. We opted to dropped north off the flute into a NE facing couloir. The more common ski on this face is into a SE facing couloir, but for better safer snow and a more technical line we took a left. The upper 100 feet of this couloir is 50 degrees, then goes 50+ through a 15 foot wide choke, then 50 for another 100 feet below the choke. It then mellows to 40s and then 30s in the apron. The snow was perfect, 5 inches of wind deposit on top of solid base. A channel of slough accompanied us down the mountain through the steeper sections. I will let the pics tell the rest of story.
Some pics of the line
Some extra credit on the way out…
For Fritz report, see here...