Did a solo tour up to the Matterhorn to do the west couloir. Ran into two couples in morning coming out from an over nighter who said the winds were nuking the day before. Today was breathless.
Skinning was as efficient as it could have been. Crust down low was child's play w/ crampons and there was basically a sidewalk all the way to my objective.
Rockin' the chomps:
Even w/ nuking winds the previous day, there was awesome pow to be had everywhere. The sawtooths seem to hold good snow longer than most places.
Sweet zone that begs for tracks:
Notice the deep pow on either side of my boards, yet I do not sink thanks to my ninja skinning techniques!
Ski dreams on left w/ my objective on right.
Pretty good snow all the way up chute. Powder, powder sastrugi, windbuffed, etc..
View of backside:
Down the line. Take a left at the snow spine:
A magical solo day overall
Met up w/ jimw for first time at the Momart in Lee Vining. You'll never guess where we went! :D
Jim had delusions of grandeur and talked me into lugging a ski rope in my pack for the Liberty chute. I obliged by carrying one of the two ropes for him, but I left my harness as I wasn't feeling "xtreme" today. I told him I'd give him moral support though!
We ascended powerhouse in slightly better conditions that last time jim and scruffy were out here.
After a less than enjoyable booting session down low (jim toughed out the windboard on skins) we gained the upper valley and very warm temps.
Powerhouse chutes come into view:
This is what I would ride down at end of day. Dropped in on lookers left side of photo between rocks on ridge. The same way we climbed up too:
We donned verts and started ascending:
One thing I learned about Jim, is he's very comfortable verting around on steep, firm snow w/ only whippets (I had two ice axes). The thing was pretty fucking steep at top w/ pretty firm windbuffed. I was whimpering like a little boy by the time we topped out. To make the top out real interesting, the last 5 feet was sugar snow on a 50++ degree slope. Jim couldn't go straight up so he had to traverse under a rock. When I followed I was absolutely gripped/fatigued at this point. I didn't want to have to traverse in sugar 5 feet from top and at same time underclinging a rock w/ the top of my board hitting feeling like I was gonna peel off backward. Jim should have some pics of me crying somewhere. I told him at the top that "this is why I quit climbing. I'm sick of being fucking scared!" That was honestly as gripped as I've been climbing snow even though it's fairly straight forward.
We walked over to look at 3rd pillar chute and Jim starts downverting firm snow into the chute to get a look. Me: "uh, Jim. where ya going?" He says it didn't go so off to look at liberty.
Here's a shot of liberty taken by a friend 6 or 7 years ago:
We get to liberty and it looks really filled in. Only one rope would be needed to rap in. Before ya know it Jim starts down climbing rock w/ pack and snowboard boots on into the chute!
Me: "Jim, why are you climbing down?"
Jim: "I think it goes" (or something similar)
Me (frightened): "uh, why don't you just rappel?"
Jim: "yeah, ok" (or something similar)
Jim in good spirits w/ impending doom right behind him:
Here I go!:
I hope that anchors good!:
Jim measures the slope at 55 degrees. Fun place to put on a snowboard:
Strapped in, Jim contemplates his demise:
At least there was good snow in the upper section. However at only 10 feet wide, 55 degrees, and off camber, you couldn't exactly "shred" it:
Jim radio's up at bottom of the narrows: "this sucks!". Since this things sees sun in the morning this time of year, the entire lower chute was refrozen crust.
Jim wondering what a turn would be like :D:
Jim finally survives his way down and he makes plans to do a quick skin and ride another chute down to the road. I go over to powerhouse and drop in. The first turn on my run was engaging. My legs literally shaking w/ fatigue/fear, 30lb pack on, 50 degree windbuffed, I finally commit to a heelside jumpturn and stop about 50 vertical feet lower than where I started. After that my heeby jeebies were over and I enjoyed the run down. I also found the whole bottom of the chute had a large debris pile coming out the bottom (right where the best snow was earlier :( ). Apparently a cornice and come off the top and trundled down the middle of the chute. By the looks of the slide it caused it must have been of considerable size. The scary part was it came down the gut right where we climbed up.
Jim radio's his position and I find him w/ my telephoto down below. Crappy conditions for photos, but photoshop helps a lot:
This is a really neat looking chute and Jim reported good conditions compared to liberty chute.
Good day Jim! We'll have to ride again soon (away from the plateau?)