| Quandary - Cristo Coliour
This year has been one of those years… with all the snow and the avalanche danger, Jason and I had been turned back on every attempt after looking at the snow conditions.
We decided to give the Cristo Couloir a chance, so with our fingers crossed we finalized our climbing plans on Thursday night.
With the recent warm temperatures, and the uncertainty of an overnight freeze, we approached this climb with a lot of caution. Despite this (the whole best laid plans thing), Jason and I didn't reach the trailhead until 6am, but were reassured by the appearance of the Couloir. Aside from that, we could see 3 people that looked like they were ¾ of the way up already. And after getting our packs on, we again comforted by the frozen puddles we crossed as well as the icy rocks we avoided from the previous days melt.
As we hiked up to the base of the climb, we realized how important our helmets would be after we saw a small rock slide to the immediate East of the coulior, and then another that sent rocks rolling to where we were at almost 100ft below the base of the climb. This is where the rocks tumbled to...
At the first opportunity, we donned our crampons and ice axes. The snow was perfect for a climb. The snow was amazingly stable and frozen. Just so I could provide the stats, I checked the incline with my inclinometer periodically on the way up and the steepest reading I took was 41 degrees. We could have kept it to 35 had we stayed further to the climbers left side of the coulior, but the snow seemed more stable to the right. This is Jason on the way up...
At about 13,700ft, we saw JB99, his fiancée and MikeyC on their way down. Apparently they were the climbers we had see heading up as we were arriving. They gave us good news on the remaining snow conditions, and I took a couple of photos of their glissade down.
We passed the only exposed, and short (maybe 15 feet) of exposed rock to the remaining 100ft of climbing to the summit.
taking a rest...
me at the summit
Jason at the summit
After chilling at the summit for about half an hour we headed down. We opted to keep our crampons on until after the rockband, but once we were past that, we packed them up and let our butts do the work on the decent. By the time we were at the bottom the snow had softened enough that had we been even a half hour later to start our climb, it would have been a much less pleasant decent.
I was an incredibly fun day, and the perfect climb to start our season!