|Greywolf's west couloir on a sunny day (Jess Douglas photo)|
I skinned up through shallow new slabs, and with ski crampons, was able to skin most of the South couloir. From the top of the couloir, I made the 4th class traverse in a blinding whiteout, arriving at the East/West notch in well under 3 hours from the car. The west couloir skied quite well, except that the 2 inches of fresh snow had formed touchy slabs up to 8" in depth. As a result, I ended up ski cutting my way down most of the chute, trying to minimize the time spent under the hanging west face. From the base, I made the normal climb out of the hole with zero visibility. Fortuntatly, I was able to rely on knowledge of the terrain to navigate back to the St. Mary's ridge. Once on the ridge, I spotted a ski track and followed it as best I could through down through storm. Soon enough, the wind abated, and I enjoyed a bit of good skiing before isothermal snow bashing down to snow line (not too bad), and jogging the final quarter mile or so to the car.
The point-to-point time was 4 hours, 51 minutes. This is probably the fastest time for the West couloir, but with better weather and conditions, it should go faster. I found the route itself elegant and enjoyable, with some good technical scrambling on the South/west traverse to keep things engaging.
Gear: Scarpa Aliens, Dynafit Broad peaks with race bindings, ski crampons, a race pack with 0.75 L of water and a bunch of Perpetum and GU, a helmet, and one whippet and one race pole. No crampons or ice axe today, but they might be mandatory later in the year.
|Cell phone self portrait back at the car.|
Splits: Old trailhead 12 minutes; saddle 35 minutes; begin traverse to Riddell 1h 20; leave Riddell 1h 40; top of South couloir 2h 25 (this section was slow); top of west 2h 45 minutes; start up out of hole 3 hr; ridge 4 hr; car 4.51.
Sorry about the lack of pictures - my camera died about an hour into the trip.