| Missouri - North Face Couloirs
For you spring snow-climbers out there...
Route: North Face Couloirs (climbed/skied the main couloir under the summit)
Elevation Gain: 4,500'
RT Mileage: ~9 miles
Notable Gear: Skis/skins, AT ski boots, poles (1 whippet), crampons, axe, beacon, shovel, probe
Snow Conditions: Hardpack above 13,800', blown-in powder throughout the main couloir. Powder and soft crust from 13,200' down to 12,600'. Hardpack, corn and some breakable crust from 12,600' to tree line. Glorious corn from the old log cabin (11,200') down to 10,800' and the stream crossing. Solid snow on the trail all the way back down to the trailhead. Note: High winds were cross-loading the North Face couloirs, although most of the snow was quite stable today. Tomorrow, hard to say.
Topo of the route (red=hike, blue=ski):
Click images for a larger versions
After a short distance, the trail was mostly snow-covered. The snow was frozen and it was an easy boot pack up to the stream crossing at 10,800'. After crossing (not much water flowing, yet), I put on the skis and continued up toward the old cabin.
Near 10,900', looking back (north) at Unnamed 13,130':
The first view of Mt. Belford after passing the old cabin and leaving the forest. From here, I stayed right and skinned up the main drainage:
Approaching the south end of Missouri Gulch:
Near 12,500' - I skinned to the end of the Gulch and turned right to gain the bowl below Missouri's North Face:
A closer look at the main couloir, which I used for both my climb and ski:
After skinning to 13,300', I switched to crampons and began the climb of the main couloir:
Near the turn in the middle of the couloir, the winds had filled a steep section with plenty of powder. I stayed along the right side to keep clear of the fresh snow:
Views from approx. 13,600':
Near 13,700', I moved to the left side of the couloir to get out of the fall-line:
Just below the summit, the pitch eases and most of the new snow had been blown away. It's easier terrain above this point but cross-winds and snow-blasting made it interesting! When I got to the top, I was there just long enough to switch to skis and quickly get back into the couloir for the fun(er) part - skiing:
A look back at Missouri:
A look back at Belford and Missouri:
Excellent day and no post-holing, thanks to the wind and early clouds. When I get a chance, I'll add this route to the 14ers.com Online Guidebook with more photos and detail.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):