Sunday, December 9, 2018

Early Season Grey Wolf West couloir

Grey Wolf Peak, West face.
I was able to take advantage of a surprise day off to honor the death of our 41st president and ski.  The early season has been kind of weird, so I headed to the Missions with enough gear for steep skiing, but without a real agenda.  The trail is a lot of work right now, and it took about 30 minutes longer than normal to top out on the the south shoulder of ESM.  To my delight, the West couloir of Grey Wolf looked good, so I headed that way.  I embarrassingly got cliffed out on the ski down to No Fish lake, and had to skin back up and find a better passage.  But I persevered. I was at the base of the West in time for a cold lunch stop.  The couloir looked great, so I headed up.
Excited to have a peak.
Great skiing off the shoulder of ESM.
The climb was about average.  Booting was pretty wallowey, but the snow was forgiving enough that I was also able to put skis on and skin for short bits.  There were a few shallow slabs and one easy little rock/ice step at 2/3 height, but nothing too concerning.  After about an hour and a half dozen booting to skiing transitions, I was at the top.  The ski down was predictably great.  In fact, conditions were some of the best I have seen in the couloir.  I was soon back at the lake, giddy and ready for a short second lunch break.
Grey Wolf West couloir in good condition.
I spent the rest of the day just cruising around on mellower terrain.  I skinned back out to the South shoulder and took a good run south into the bowl adjacent to the approach ridge, yo-yoed a short lap on the climb back out, then climbed to the South shoulder one last time before the egress.  The South shoulder runs were a lot of fun, with surprisingly good snow.  The egress was slower than normal since skiing stops pretty high, but the trail is snowy and slippery most of the way back to the valley bottom.  Running shoes and micro spikes were helpful.
At the bottom of the South shoulder bowl run.
About 10,300 vertical feet, done in 9 hours, 15 minutes at a reasonable pace with stops to giggle in sheer delight at how much I enjoy skiing.

10k day #2