Hey all, I am considering doing Koch Peak next Monday and Tuesday, and would like to do either the Notch Coulior or the north ridge. I'm not sure what the snow conditions look like in the Madisons right now. I know that could make a big difference. I have a few questions about both routes if anyone has info.
Coulior - Does anyone know the approximate angle of the coulior? I haven't done a lot of steep snow, so I don't think I would want to go steeper than 50 degrees.
North ridge - It was a pretty mild winter but I'm sure there is still loads of snow up there. I'm curious if anyone has any input on whether this may be very dangerous (or even easier) with snow/ice hanging around still.
Also I have read mixed opinions on the small pitch above the notch to get to the summit. Minus snow/ice complicating things, is this doable without a short rope?
I've done the North Ridge twice. Getting to the basin at the top of tumbledown creek is going to be lots of postholing right now. If you camp and gain the ridge early, avy danger should be low, and the ridge is probably passable in terms of snow. I'm sure you'll find some drifts. There may be some tricky spots, but you aren't committed until you cross the notch. Unless it's wet, the moves out of the notch shouldn't be too bad, and lots of snow might help. If you hit this in the late afternoon, though, you might encounter significant avy danger and it will be unavoidable unless you go back. The top of the couloir isn't that bad, but if I were climbing the whole thing and it was firm, and axe would be very handy. It may be necessary to get across the top this early. Descent should be fine, but likely lots more postholing.
Do you think south facing slopes would be safe in a week, assuming no freakish weather? I hadn't factored in the the ridge and coulior on Koch are both east and north facing. I can see that being a problem. I was thinking of waiting to do Koch until the 18-19th and maybe doing something like Gallatin's south face this coming week. If things are still unstable on south slopes I will do something else. I wish avalanche centers actually kept their advisories going until avalanches ended for the year. I guess that would make too much sense. Is there any current avalanche info for SW Montana?