If only I had more “on it” a couple weeks ago when we had a bit of early September snow I could have hiked up to the permanent snowfield located in the couloir of “The Great One”, found it covered in a couple inches of freshies, made some turns and been happy. But Mike and I had planned to go backpacking that weekend and we headed up to the base of Mount Blackmore instead and although it was a great camping trip I’m still kicking myself for not having gotten some snowboarding done.
A really terrible phone-cam photo of The Great One
It’s been on my life-list of goals to snowboard at least once per month for twelve consecutive months. This season I took a splitboarding trip to Pine Creek Lake in July and then went again in August. Having complete those two months I decided I might as well have a go at September as well.
I finished up my work day quickly, left the office, went home, gathered my gear, and drove to the trailhead arriving at 14:45. I set out at a full on speed pace gaining the ridge-top in under thirty minutes and arrived atop the couloir soon after. The couloir, although a permanent snowfield does melt out from the top, bottom, and sides. I had to down-climg a significant distance to reach the snowline.
Looking down The Great One in late September
While holding my board I sliced the edge of it into the snow and found the consistency to be icy and showing little signs of give. At this point in time I was worried I wouldn’t get to ride the line at all because I was solo and could not risk an uncontrolled, sliding fall to the rocks below. I opted to down-climb along the skiers-right edge of the snowfield along exposed rocks to a place where some remnants from the two-weeks-previous snowfall remained. From here I was able to strap into my board and make some sketchy heel edge slides through the snow-choked portion of the couloir.
It became obvious that the icy couloir was simply too hard for me to attain any purchase with the edge of my snowboard so I unstrapped and hobbled my way down the steep talus. I had managed to break one of my trekking poles by dropping off a small section of class III rock I needed to down-climb above so I was pretty unbalanced with my snowboard strapped to my pack and the looseness of the rock.
Broken carbon fiber trekking poles
I exited the couloir and found my way to the bottom of the basin wherein I was interested to find the remains of a crashed airplane. I had not seen this on my last trip as it had been covered in snow. I’ll need to look into the history of that as it’s not too often one encounters this sort of thing. I arrived back at the trailhead with a round-trip from car-to-car of about 2:40 which, given the slowness of my descent along the snow I feel is a pretty good time.
Summer snowboarding means muddy boots and board
Trip Route on EveryTrail.com