Friday, May 22, 2009

Spring Ski Mountaineering: Skywalker Couloir

Yesterday we were able to ski one of my favorite lines in the Indian Peaks. The Skywalker Couloir (See Mountain Project for a good description) on South Arapahoe peak. This gorgeous line offers some enjoyable snow climbing, a steep entrance, wonderful corn snow, a thin area with a bit of funky snow because of the shade and runnels, to a gentle bottom apron. A spectacular spring outing on skis, with only a bit of hiking in our ski boots.

I was lucky enough to be joined by Bruce Edgerly and Jonathan Lantz on the journey and we met up at the Bus stop in Nederland about 6am hoping to ski off the top at 10. The drive to the 4th of July trailhead went by quickly with only once close call for the low clearance 96 Subaru Legacy Brighton. As we got ready the big decision seemed to be if we were going to boot hike or carry our ski boots and hike in running shoes. The choice turned out to be ski boots as the trail appeared snowy and wet.

After about an hour of walking we were able to put our skins on and ski to the base of the couloir proper. There the stair master fun begins. We each took our shifts kicking steps in the lead and popped over the top of the Princess Leia finish at 9:45am. Perfect timing and perfect conditions.

Bruce and Jonathan skied the top section beautifully and gave me so much confidence I almost went head over heals on my first turn. After that we had no more drama and the only tricky snow proved to be the middle shady section.

The boot out went by quickly with smiles from ear to ear for all. Little did we know that while we were in the sun the rest of the front range was socked in and cold. What a great day to be in the mountains with friends.

I am looking forward to trying to get out and Ski the Fuhrer Finger on Mount Rainier as my last ski outing of the year. I will be sure to keep you posted and let me know if you have any helpful beta.

See you in the mountains.

-Mike Alkaitis

Gear used on this outing by Mike Alkaitis:
Skis: Ski Trab
Bindings: Dynafit F10
Boots: Scarpa F-3
Skins: Black Diamond STS
Beacon Shovel and Probe: Backcountry Access
Shell: Marmot Mica Jkt
Pants: Marmot Scree Pant
Poles: Black Diamond Whippet
Pack: BCA Alp 55

3 comments:

Adam L. Reiner said...

Nice work. How steep is that upper section? You think it is still skiable this weekend? Looks like there should still be a lot of snow up there.

Good luck on the Finger. I went for it about three weeks ago but turned around 1000' below the couloir because the snow was too unconsolidated at the time. Rainier is epic, though!

Total Climbing said...

Adam,

Thanks. The Skywalker should be skiable this weekend with the colder temps. The runnel in the middle will be big but can be avoided. The top was 48-50 degrees and really fun. Mellows out pretty quick. Enjoy and let us know how it goes.

Thanks for the luck on Rainier. I hope to find good snow if I am lucky.

Cheers,

Mike

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