Trip Title: S. early winter spire, SW couloir
Author lee coutermarsh
Date April 26, 2003
GuideBook Nelson 1rst edition
TrailConditions 5+ feet snow
Owned By climbing
Mountain Elevation Summitted
My partner for the day Tom Breit had this rte on his tick list and invited me along. We left Seattle at 4:30 a.m. to be up to the blue lake trailhead early for the best ice conditions in the couloir.
From the trailhead (5,200 ft) follow snowshoe tracks towards the SW bearing and gradually climb and shortly you break out of the timber (6,000 ft). From here keep going up and following below liberty bell,N early winter spire and head towards the S. spire. You will not see the couloir untill you get up closer and then obvious.
There was a team of 2 in front of us and they were roped up. Looked more of a hassle to us and we decided to just solo it and self belay as the conditions were good for front pointing good kick steps. We didn't put on our crampons either as I think they would have been a hassle as well. Follow the main chute up and then it mellows out a bit and come to a fork, take the right fork and up. Here it narrows and gets even steeper and a few places would have liked my crampons, and maybe a 2nd ice tool. Then top out and climb a short rock pitch (left) and nelson's guide put it at 5.3. A bit hairy as it was rock covered with ice.
On the summit the sun was brilliant and the views were awesome. The cornices that are waiting to come down everywhere are HUGE.
Downclimbing the rock moves we opted to rope up. I went first and set up an anchor below with a small cam and a hex. From here we unroped and just downclimbed.
Almost to the parking lot we ran into mike and doerte on ski's. Funny as while they were taking pictures of the "little black specks in the couloir" I was taking pictures of the skiiers right below those huge cornices.
A very fun day and great little climb.
Gear we took and used, snowshoes/poles, 50 M rope, small alpine rack.
Gear we took and didn't use, crampons, ice screws.
2 things I might suggest, bring all of the above gear as this rte is probably subject to change daily. And it is a long drive up there for just a half day trip, try to do something else and possibly one of the many rock climbs up in that area. Those will be open soon as it is melting out fast. It is a beautiful area this time of year and this is a great easy rte to do.