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Granite Southwest Couloir Conditions

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Granite Southwest Couloir Conditions

Postby VincePoore » Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:26 am

Posted in the other thread, but I fear it got buried, so...

When I did this route 2007-08-25 there was no snow and we made it. Last year on 08-22 there was snow and a choke point that was mostly ice we elected not to climb around. Some of us want to try again and if you've been on the route this year, please post conditions.
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Postby BadgerSummitSeeker » Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:58 pm

Vince,

I did do the Southwest Couloir route in mid-August. I was up in the couloir on 8-16 and ran into snow. It made the climbing 4th class and then it went into 5th class. I saw another party who had a lot of rock climbing experience who still summited but they said they really shouldn't have tried what they did without ropes and an ice axe. I'm not sure if conditions have changed but there were unavoidable 5th class moves on the 16th. I had to turn around at about 12,400 with only about 400' left to the summit. Hope that answers your question.
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Re: Granite Southwest Couloir Conditions

Postby montanajames » Tue Aug 09, 2011 9:56 pm

I'm planning on attempting the Southwest Couloir beginning on September 1. With the high snow levels this year, does anybody know if there might still be significant snow in the couloir at the end of August?
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Re: Granite Southwest Couloir Conditions

Postby peakhugger » Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:36 am

From the Upper Aero thread:

peakhugger wrote:And here's a look at Granite from the top of Glacier if anyone's headed that way. The SW couloir still has a lot of snow in it, as of July 30.

Image


I honestly don't know how this compares to previous years, but that's seems to be lot of snow - a least two large patches in the couloir just above the slab.
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Re: Granite Southwest Couloir Conditions

Postby Joseph Bullough » Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:10 pm

In 2009 we climbed the southwest couloir on 8/14. Obviously conditions will be different this year, but my main point is that even though there was very little snow in the couloir (50 feet or so), it was hard as concrete. It would have been a chore to carry ice axes on such a long hike for just 50 feet of use, but we sure wished we had them that day.
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Re: Granite Southwest Couloir Conditions

Postby jrjas12 » Thu Aug 11, 2011 8:36 pm

I'm planning to attempt the SW Couloir next weekend, 8/19-8/20. Anyone know what the latest snow conditions look like? Thanks.
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Re: Granite Southwest Couloir Conditions

Postby montanajames » Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:18 am

Jrjas12 - any chance you could capture a picture of the couloir conditions and let me know when you return? I'm planning on the southwest couloir on September 1. Thanks
-James
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Re: Granite Southwest Couloir Conditions

Postby jrjas12 » Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:41 am

Sure montanajames - hope to capture some good pics and will be happy to share.
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Re: Granite Southwest Couloir Conditions

Postby montanajames » Wed Aug 24, 2011 4:23 am

Anybody have updates on the conditions here? I'm finalizing plans for the SW couloir for next week. Could also use a climbing partner. Mine is backing out.
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Re: Granite Southwest Couloir Conditions

Postby bfcc » Wed Aug 24, 2011 8:34 pm

I climbed Granite by the standard east ridge route last week. Did not get a good view of the SW couloir. The standard route is dry, with the exception of the snowbridge. Snowbridge was straightforward, but was pretty icy when I first arrived at it before the sun had hit. I was glad to have an ice axe. On my way down at about 9:30 AM it had softened up nicely and I probably would have been comfortable without an axe. There is still a large patch of snow on the triangle area on the approach to the snowbridge, but it can be avoided either by staying directly on the ridge (3rd class) or on talus to the left.

Can't give much info on the S side of the peak, except to say that there was still quite a bit of snow in the sky top creek drainage. I would not be surprised if there is still some snow in the couloir, but I'm just speculating.
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Re: Granite Southwest Couloir Conditions

Postby peakhugger » Thu Aug 25, 2011 4:25 am

Per my photo above and reports from a friend on the standard SE route, I'm guessing the SW couloir route is still dicey and snow (or more likely ice!) bound. Probably not even close to Class 3 as it is when melted out.

Unless I had confirmation that the SW couloir route was melted out, I wouldn't bother this year until mid-Sept... But the approach would make for a nice backpack regardless. Have you thought about the standard route? A couple folks are reporting good conditions on that route this year.
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Re: Granite Southwest Couloir Conditions

Postby jrjas12 » Fri Aug 26, 2011 6:02 am

I summitted Granite via the SW Couloir last Saturday. I didn't use my ice ax or crampons at all for the final ascent (but did use the ice ax a couple times trekking through the lakes). I did not find snow to be an issue at the final ascent but it may depend on the level of exposure you are comfortable with. There were only two small patches of snow remaining. The first is at the beginning of the final ascent but there are rocks you can free climb to the left. The second is at the bottom of the slab, and again, you can free climb the scree field to the left. After you get in the couloir there were only a few patches of snow that are easily avoidable (of course, it's still a tough climb). The summit itself had no snow but was still damn scary. Hope this helps.
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Re: Granite Southwest Couloir Conditions

Postby Dartmouth Hiker » Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:52 pm

Thanks for the updated conditions! Planning to head there myself in the fairly near future, and I was wondering if you had any pics of the snowy sections. Also, how difficult is circumventing the snow, especially on the upper portion? Class 4 or so?

jrjas12 wrote:I summitted Granite via the SW Couloir last Saturday. I didn't use my ice ax or crampons at all for the final ascent (but did use the ice ax a couple times trekking through the lakes). I did not find snow to be an issue at the final ascent but it may depend on the level of exposure you are comfortable with. There were only two small patches of snow remaining. The first is at the beginning of the final ascent but there are rocks you can free climb to the left. The second is at the bottom of the slab, and again, you can free climb the scree field to the left. After you get in the couloir there were only a few patches of snow that are easily avoidable (of course, it's still a tough climb). The summit itself had no snow but was still damn scary. Hope this helps.
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Re: Granite Southwest Couloir Conditions

Postby Dartmouth Hiker » Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:21 pm

Also, what have been others' experiences with bears (grizz in particular) on this route? My general impression is that they are around, but generally not as serious an issue as they would be deeper in Yellowstone or Glacier NPs. Please let me know if you've heard differently...thanks!
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Re: Granite Southwest Couloir Conditions

Postby Dartmouth Hiker » Mon Sep 05, 2011 7:56 pm

Just got back from a successful climb of Granite via the Sky Top drainage and SW couloir. Current conditions:

Up to Lone Elk Lake: snow-free. One tricky stream crossing on logs around 9230'.

Lone Elk and Rough lakes: some snow fields, can be walked and/or traversed around with caution. Mostly snow-free though.

Sky Top Lakes: several angled snowfield crossings, one of them unavoidable and steep enough to warrant an ice axe and/or traction. The descent into the basin from the saddle above Upper Aero Lake is mostly snow-covered, though we talked to some people who managed to make the descent on rock. From above the lakes, it's best to stay in the low part of the drainage and follow a series of gradual snowfields up to near the Granite-Cairn saddle. Stay well to the right of the last glacial tarn to avoid a large bergschrund!

Granite: there's one patch of steep snow on the lower R part of the mountain,in the scree gully you use to access the base of the slab. It can be bypassed on the left with easy class 2+ scrambling. The SW couloir itself is now virtually snow-free, with one or two inconsequential small patches. A few scrambling sections about halfway up are partially coated with verglas, which slightly increases the scrambling difficulty to around class 3+. Once you've exited the top of the couloir at extreme R, the remaining route is snow-free and (for the most part) surprisingly easy and unexposed--just follow the cairns.

This route is in as good of condition as it's going to get this year--bring an ice axe for the approach and climb 'er while you still can!
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