TR: Crescent Moon Couloir & The Sisters (Carson Pass)
Crescent Moon Couloir & The Sisters, Carson Pass
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Enginerd & UCL
Photos & Video:
UCL (unless otherwise noted as Enginerd)
Bluebird and warming – really a perfect day. By 1 PM on the skin back to the car, it was nearing the 60s around 8,000 ft.
From the Sierra Avalanche Center:
Early this morning, avalanche danger is Low for all elevations and aspects. Pockets of Moderate danger will form at all elevations on E-SE-S-SW-W aspects in response to daytime warming. Very isolated areas of instability may exist on northerly aspects. Normal caution is advised.
During our tour, Enginerd and I did not encounter any instabilities.
With the call for good weather, stable avalanche conditions and the promise of wintry snow at higher elevations that do not get any sun, Enginerd and I decided to head to Carson Pass and ski Crescent Moon Couloir as the primary objective. With an abundance of other options and easy access, we intended on skiing other lines in the area as well, but giving ourselves an easy bail if the snow got too warm too quick.
Other than a vital gear mishap in a somewhat exposed spot, the day was awesome.
Here is a video of the day I put together. This is my first attempt a putting together a movie, so it is somewhat budget. Nevertheless, with decent footage, tunes and some uber-cheesy commentary, I was pleased with the result:
We got a somewhat early start to the day. UCL starting off the skin. Photo: Enginerd
Enginerd on the initial approach at around 7:30, with Round Top in the distance. Crescent Moon Couloir is the visible moon-shaped curving chute in the middle of Round Top.
UCL pointing out Crescent Moon Couloir, in case the last description was not crystal clear. Photo: Enginerd
The thing that is really great about Carson Pass is the approaches – namely, they are flat and fast. Really a great area to day tour in and hit a number of aspects/locations. Photo: Enginerd
Getting closer. Most of the sun-affected snow had gone through a good overnight re-freeze the night before, creating a supportable crust. Skinning was fast.
A macro of Round Top and Crescent Moon Couloir. We skinned to the base of the Couloir and booted up it.
Cool picture of UCL approaching, with Round Top looming in the distance. Photo: Enginerd
The terrain around Winnemucca Lake. We ended our day right around here and debated going over to these zones, but it was around 1 P.M. and Enginerd and I both had commitments later in the day/evening.
It was interesting – for like 10 minutes the light went oddly flat, creating this out-worldly picture of UCL with Winnemucca Lake in the background. Photo: Enginerd
Looking up at the base of the Couloir. The booting was pretty quick going. For the first 10 feet, Enginerd was worried as the snow was very deep and soft (making for great skiing, but snow climbing!).
Couple of Enginerd setting the boot ladder. There were not any other tracks or boot packs in the Couloir – apparently it had not been skied since the last storm or the wind otherwise filled-in old tracks/boot steps.
Couple of UCL following up the boot ladder. Photos: Enginerd
Enginerd reaching the top of the Couloir. I booted up to where Enginerd is in this picture and dug a platform, while Enginerd continued up around the corner for another 25 feet or so to the Summit.
USGS Summit Marker. Photo: Enginerd
I had stopped as the very top was very steep and I was hitting the end of my comfort zone. I said in the video above it is around 50 degrees or so right there. I should have actually measured it there (as I am sure it is less steep), but I can assure that (i) it is steep, (ii) it is exposed and (iii) it is no-fall zone due to the way the Couloir curves
Looking down from my platform (the Couloir curves to the left out of view):
Good scenic of Lake Tahoe over Desolation Wilderness from my platform:
I don’t have any pictures of Jon skiing the actual Couloir because it was all on the video from above.
On my platform I had geared up, including all of the standard steps I go through when engaging the bindings. I just assume I had more snow than I thought in my Dynafits and didn’t double check.
Here is a picture showing where my platform was in relation Enginerd at the very top, just below the roll-in entrance. Photo: Enginerd
Anyway, from my platform, I dropped in first with Enginerd watching from above. I side slipped the first 10-15 feet or so b/c it was so steep. Finally, I threw a jump turn that was intended to be the first of many turns. Unfortunately, my downhill ski just popped of in the turn and fell down the entire Couloir. Fortunately, I was stable on my other ski with a whippet into the uphill slope, so I wasn’t going anywhere.
This is precisely the moment my ski popped off. The worst part is I have B&D ski leashes and they were sitting in the car. Note: Not really a binding error, I blame it on myself for not double-checking the engagement. Given the exposed terrain, probably should have locked into touring mode (although I really never ski like that). Photo: Enginerd
At that point, I had to disengage my other ski and drop it down and out of the way. Clearly I am not to pleased about the turn of events. Photo: Enginerd
I then climbed over to literally the only *safe-zone* in the entire Chute (behind a rock outcropping so at least I was shielded from Enginerd’s sluff), and filmed Enginerd ski the Couloir top to bottom in amazing, cold winter snow. Here is my teeny perch (I lost my ski about 10 feet up). Photo: Enginerd
After a laugh at the bottom (and a fun glissade at the bottom 1/3rd), we headed over to the Sisters to salvage the day for me.
Enginerd skinning over to the Sisters. I skied a line from the base of the first rock outcropping, and Enginerd skied the prominent chute in the middle. I was a feeling a mellower line after down climbing a very steep chute.
UCL on the skin up to the Sisters. Photo: Enginerd
UCL still pondering the turn of events over at Crescent Moon. Photo: Enginerd
Sequence of UCL skiing over my the Sisters. While the snow was not amazing (still in between refreeze and corn), it felt great to open it up after having to downclimb the Couloir. After the last picture, I pretty much straight-lined the bottom 3rd of the line. Photos: Enginerd
After I was at the bottom of my line, Enginerd hiked up further around the back of the Sisters and dropped in on the next line over.
Enginerd looking down the Chute he dropped in on. You can see my tracks from the lower part of my line:
Sequence of Enginerd skiing the middle Chute on the Sisters (which held great, soft snow):
Enginerd’s tracks are visible top to bottom, and part of my tracks and my run out are visible:
Oh No! Chemtrails!!!!!!! Photo: Enginerd
We then skinned back over to the apron right below Round Top and then skied a nice run all the way down to Winnemucca Lake. It was nice corn snow all the way down that you could really fly on and a great end of the day run.
Sequence of UCL on the upper apron, below Crescent Moon Couloir. Photos: Enginerd
Sequence of Enginerd:
UCL on the lower portion about to head down to Winnemucca Lake on the last run of the day, enjoying the corn snow. Photos: Enginerd
UCL is clearly pleased with the run! Photo: Enginerd
Despite the mishap with my binding in the main objective, I still had an awesome day of skiing and any day in the mountains beats a day sitting on the couch: