Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Goddess & Jane couloirs

Despite hearing reports of terrible skiing due to the unseasonably warm temps, Matt, Horan, Steve and I decided to check out the couloirs on the N side of east boulder peak, hoping to find stable powder conditions. 
horan, top of the goddess
An early departure from town had us leaving the car at the plowed-in turnoff of the west fork road at first light.  After about 2 minutes of skinning the road, we were forced to shoulder our skis and start booting up the mostly bare ridge for a bit til reaching skinable snow and continuing up to the lookout.  We stepped inside for a short break before continuing up, reaching the top of the goddess in about 3.5 hours. 
nearing the top
entrance to the mary couloir
We stashed skis and proceeded to go investigate the corniced entrance to the mary couloir, but ultimately decided to go for the easy entrance to the goddess and then investigate the mary from below.  Having been turned around last year by wind slabs atop the goddess, I was excited to check it out in more stable conditions.  We found a variety of snow types, ranging from great boot top powder to icy crusts as we slowly leap-frogged our way down this nearly 4k run to boulder creek.
matt, finding powder in the goddess
steve, testing new skis/bindings
myself in the goddess (photo: ben horan)
even found powder in the apron
We lounged in the sun for a bit and fueled up for the big climb up to the mary-jane cirque.  I was feeling a little sluggish on the morning climb but with some food got a good burst of energy to put in the skinner up to the base of the mary-jane cirque.  
back up for more
Anticipating slow deep bootpacking in the mary and questioning how well it would ski for the 4th person, we instead opted for the wider jane couloir on far climber’s R.  Once in the couloir proper, the angle forced us to booting and a thin strip of icy snow down the center (with powder on the sides) allowed for good climbing conditions as Steve took the lead and punched us a staircase to the top. 
the mary, we'll be back
jane couloir is far looker's R.  mary on far L.  middle grouping of couloirs need more snow
and always require a rappel at the bottom
We hit our turn around time (and deep unconsolidated facets) a few feet from the top so decided to call it, ready to ski another 3500ft bitterroot peak-to-creek classic.  A mix of excellent powder, ice and breakable crust put us back at the creek, which we crossed, slapped on skins and began the 4 mile (but felt longer) exit to the car, the last 90minutes by headlamp.  I was surprised to see no evidence of prior human traffic on the boulder creek trail other than within a mile of the trailhead.
big.  wild.  bitterroot.  (goddess is on looker's R)
Stats:  approx. 9k vert in 12 hrs car-car

Rose: great powder skiing in the jane couloir proper
Thorn: slow exit via boulder creek trail in the dark
Bud: returning for the mary

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