Peak(s):  Pacific Pk  -  13,950 feet
Crystal Pk A  -  13,852 feet
Date Posted:  05/13/2009
Date Climbed:   05/09/2009
Author:  skibrendan
 Pac North Couloir and Crystal N Face Ski   

Fullroom Productions Video on the way for added entertainment value (we hope)
Pacific Peak and Crystal are two of those places that just keep drawing me back. Anyone who spends much time climbing or skiing in the Tenmile will eventually wonder about these N Faces. Crystal's N Face can be seen from 91 while passing Copper Mt but can be better scouted from the top of peak 8. Its harder to get a good look at Pacific's entire North Couloir. If not familiar with the area, climbing it out of Spruce Creek is probably a good idea. The Roach+Roach guidebook has a good Pac North Couloir description as well as other helpful routes in the area. Also I found good TRs online, but no recent ski reports so I thought maybe someone could use/enjoy this. It's a STEEP one. I'll include some safety notes at the bottom.
Around 5am on Saturday morning the full moon glowed down from the West and the Tenmile loomed to my East. I could hardly wait and headed to Pacific out of Mayflower Gulch with buds Ryan (fullroom) and BCDave. The light was amazing and Dave got some nice pics, while Ryan shot some vid footage that I hope will get added soon. For now, another photo report.
Skinning at first light:
We started bootpacking:
and it got steeper:
Ryan and I skied this little chute near the W Ridge a couple years back and the top is extremely steep, but only for about 30ft. This photo isn't cheated:
Monkey sees Monkeys Do:
Ryan loves to shoot film in the mountains and I'm always grateful for the beautiful footage. The camera's heavy; thanks again Ryan!
reaching the summit ridge:
finally getting a look. I'd have to say that this one is steeper than it looks in the pic (for a change):
The summit was so beautiful that I had to say a prayer of thanks. Dave opted out of the N. Couloir so luckily we had a backup plan. Dave headed East off the summit and Dropped the N. Face via this line. We never lost visual contact which was nice. (I also grabbed the cam and got some good vid of this):
Then Dave called on the Radio that there were climbers in the chute!!:
Darn! Two weeks since snow and they're putting in the first tracks right when we're getting ready to drop. We hurried back down to the notch to try and communicate and coordinate this whole thing. Luckily these guys were really cool. I shouted down to the lead climber and he was willing to leave the choke until we got it. Agreeing that the pack was stable, he posted up against the wall out of the way and took pics when we dropped. Thanks for the spirit of sharing the mountains guys wherever you are (Salida and C Butte)!!! Hope you had as great and peaceful an adventure as we did! Coincidentally if you guys ever see this report, I would love to add your pics.
Finally dropping a line I've been dreaming of:
Then Ryan:
Past the crux but still steep:
In our happy place:
Then we bootpacked the south face of crystal and skied the N. Face, which was bulletproof sastrugi, but a magical place to be:
satisfied and blurry back on the road:

Safety notes:
-The Pacific Couloir is extremely steep. R+R rate it as 65 deg! It is rated as an ice climb and the top goes at 5.5 on rock. The fall line slams two walls hard. A slip at the top and you'll only have seconds to fight for your life. Be sure. This run is committing. Many parties use protection while climbing this and some opt to rap in. It would take a long time to evacuate out Spruce Creek if there was an injury in the couloir.
-The whole Crystal N Face looks great from the top, but many of the lines cliff out. Scout well. If you get there and you aren't sure, you can traverse left and down until you see through.
-If unstable, reconsider your approach from the west. There are terrain traps.
-My helpful hint: Scout your run down out of Crystal N Face from 91. The key is to figure where you will cross the river!
Also, the gulches below the north face make a fast transition from terrain traps to sloppy river skiing. Plan ahead.
-The cornice above the Pac Couloir "Y" variation should be noted as it has E. exposure.
-Snow conditions: The couloir had melt freeze consolidation with a small fresh windloaded layer (1.5") which had melt freezed into an icy styrofoam-grippy surface. I expect this is becoming harder and icier with the recent warm-up or it could be slush if you don't have a freeze. As the couloir opened up, The ice crust became stout. I was glad I wasn't carrying a lot of speed. Snow evaluation is key here.
-This one can't be skied just any day. This was my 3rd attempt on this one. Being ready to back down is a virtue. There are many options on Pacific.
-Love every breath out there!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

02/05/2011 00:22
a couple of us were joking around about skiing that N.Couloir on Pacific a few weekends ago (one guy was dead serious). Your photos are just as I'd imagine that line to be, steep and very aesthetic. Thanks a lot for the beta on the route off Crystal back to 91, looking at that line when we did the east slopes, I was wondering if things got tricky through those woods. Great job of showing the terrain, the difficulties and including great pictures as well.

One other small matter. Did you guys ski back to Mayflower Gulch TH or end up a little ways down th road and hitch back up?

Love the Tenmile.........


Very very nicely done!!
05/02/2011 14:23
That is steep!!! I talked to Dave Sunday night and couldn‘t believe you guys just nailed this line on Saturday. I almost hit it on Sunday with my friend Marc. The climb looked fun but we weren‘t confident either of us would be comfortable skiing/snowboarding it. Awesome work.


11/30/2010 17:28
Let me tell you all that:
1. Nice TR Brendan and it was a pleasure skiing with you & Hal-V once again. Look forward to the video & our next mission!
2. Ryan & Brendan have a HUGE set on them as well as a good head to make solid decisions. Like Brendan mentioned, this was their 3rd trip to this couloir where they wisely decided NOT to drop the first two due to poor conditions. Be prepared to ski another line off either side of the peak. My line off the summit was fun but I would opt to ski off the western ridge (lookers right) after descending down to the first point of entry that joins the North couloir at the 90 degree bend (only IF the North couloirs was not an option).
3. As we frantically called every friend we had in Summit Co. Friday night looking for a rope we studied similar TRs on TGR & tried to evaluate this line via pictures very similar to picture 12 above titled "finally getting a look. I'd have to say that this one is steeper than it looks in the pic (for a change)". Personally, I figured this was doable in comparison to other couloirs I've skied however once we were there the 65 degree slope that looked to be 20'-30' wide in the pics was only 10' max. No truck or car could drive through this couloir, only motorcycles & mtn. bikes! Clouds did roll in stalling the couloirs' snow from being transformed into the sweet spring corn we all know & love. After Ryan built an ice cave to block the constant 40 mph winds, we chilled for almost 2 hours before the call for action. With a rope I would have self-belayed into the couloir past the first rock obstacle and enjoyed the remaining 80% of the line. Without a rope plan B was the way for me to go. Therefore, don't waste your time trekking to this peak with the intention to ski the North couloir w/o a rope. The top is defiantly a no fall zone until you bank almost 90 degrees past the tall spire on skiers left headed down the final chute.
4. Pictures 17 "Then Ryan" & 18 are a much more accurate view of this beast.


05/13/2009 23:07
Well done! A couple of years ago I climbed to the turn below the final pitch (where that climber is in your Photo #12) and skied from that point because it was icy above. Had to clip in to the rocks to get set! Even that lower portion is steep. The couloir that Dave skied is a good one too; I hit that one in 2007 with fresh powder. Excellent.

Great job and keep ‘em coming!


05/14/2009 00:12
L. Helmut: We hitched back up to Mayflower.


L. Helmut pic
05/14/2009 00:16
ps, that pic from the Crys report was helpful


Big bag
05/14/2009 04:10
extremely big sack to hit that line. Great work and TR, guys...

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