Couloir Consolidation...

Colorado 14er peak questions, condition requests and other info. 14er Trip Reports, Condition Reports

Couloir Consolidation...

Postby Steve Climber » Fri Jun 12, 2009 1:13 pm

General question regarding sun exposure and snow in Couloir(s)

I am going to take a shot at Quandary Couloir (N. facing) this question on this route and others similar in aspect is "In a North facing couloir, what side would get the best consolidation; The eastern facing wall, or the western facing wall?"

In my thinking, the eastern facing (climber's right) would get more exposure during the day and would tend to pack down a bit better(?), then assuming a good freeze that night, be more solid in the I right/wrong/does it matter? What side (if not right up the gut) would one suggest sticking to for slide purposes.

I plan on being on trail by 5:00-5:30am, so if the weather the night before was cold enough the snow "should" still be pretty stable by the time I am to the summit...will descend the standard east face.
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Re: Couloir Consolidation...

Postby davebks » Fri Jun 12, 2009 1:26 pm

Sorry I can't be of more help since I haven't done that route, but I am planning on doing Fletcher tomorrow. I have been keeping a close eye on NOAA's site and it's looking like rain and snow.
I spoke with a ranger who suggested I not do the Cristo Couliour this weekend because it was a mess. Muddy, snowy, icy and not ready for climbing right now due to the new weather. You might want to check in on the conditions of your climb.

Keep an eye out and I would also recommend leaving earlier then 5:30 in case. Its supposed to get below freezing, which is good.
Anyway, have a fun safe time. I'll be up tomorrow (if I don't wake up to rain at 4am). If I can I will post a report.

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Re: Couloir Consolidation...

Postby Doug Shaw » Fri Jun 12, 2009 1:37 pm

Not to be trite, but if you are concerned enough about slides that you feel you need to identify which side of the couloir is "safer"... then you probably shouldn't be climbing the route. Note that I'm not trying to be derogatory in any way, simply stating that if your concern about a slide is that significant then you should be asking whether it's safe enough to climb AT ALL. Avalanche risk assessment is generally fairly binary: is it safe, or isn't it (go/no-go)? If it isn't then there's really nothing you can do about it, save staying away.

Quandary Couloir is pretty broad (as couloirs go), so in general I probably wouldn't worry too much about whether one side gets more sun than another; it probably all balances out in the end. I'd be more concerned with conditions in the couloir overall than any particular part of it. And that you'll be able to make an assessment on once you get there (all part of the experience :wink: ).

Keep in mind that during your approach you'll need to leave the trail and cross the creek somewhere along the line. Depending on snowcover and water flow, doing this can chew up some time. Or, it's possible (likely, in fact) that I was horribly off-route on the approach when I did it. :)

FYI, if you bear right at the top it steepens to the egress - good times.

Have a good time, and be safe!

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Re: Couloir Consolidation...

Postby slopestyle » Fri Jun 12, 2009 1:46 pm

From what I've learned climbing couloirs is that you won't tend to stay on one side or the other the whole way up. Snow conditions change the entire trip. You can think about sun exposure for sure but you also have to think about the topography that will windload some areas while sweeping others. My boot tracks trend straight up but they do look like a drunken swagger sometimes, just keep an open mind and follow the best snow for kicking steps through the couloir. You won't know where that's at until your on the snow.

Good luck, be safe and have fun,

Life's journey is not to arrive safely at the grave in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, "HOLY s**t!!...WHAT A HELL OF A RIDE!!!!"

Re: Couloir Consolidation...

Postby Steve Climber » Fri Jun 12, 2009 3:10 pm

Thanks for the replies.


Thanks for your feedback...I'm not really concerned RIGHT NOW with whether or not the col is safe enough to climb AT ALL...conditions can and probably will change dramatically from today to Sunday, and I will make the call once up there. I will keep an eye on the weather and will be camping at TH Saturday, so will have first hand on temp and/or rain conditions.

This thread was more just a non-location-specific question (Quandary just happened to be my food for thought that brought it up) that popped into my head when I started thinking about how snow reacts to different conditions. Have though about many of the other pieces of the puzzle, just never really though of it on a "dihedral" level...I have done plenty of broad snow routes on lower peaks in the Tahoe area while riding b/c, just not anything at this elevation or this narrow. I don't have a TON of snow climbing experience, but I do have a good idea of what signs to watch out for and have ZERO issues with scrapping a climb if it's not right.

Everybody was the FNG at some point, right? :)
Dave B wrote:And/or line thy helmet with tin foil and realize this is a freaking mountaineering website.

Steve Climber wrote:So that's your backpack, huh?

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