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  1. #1
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    TR: Dragontail Couloir, RMNP 4/27/08

    Preface
    I was in the library last night, two pages into a 15 page paper when I got a PM from Prophet10, who was looking for a partner for today. I hadn't been skiing in seven weeks (grad school, recital, etc.) and I had no plans on skiing today, but I answered the call of duty. He wanted to ski the Dragontail, which had been on my short list of lines I wanted to ski this year. He had done it a few times before and knew the route, and the forecast called for a great day. I bailed on the paper and went home to get some sleep. In honor of that paper, (which I should be working on right now instead of this TR), I will present this trip report in formal research style. Feel free to critique my organization, content, and style.

    Introduction


    The Dragontail Couloir rises approx. 1600 feet out of Tyndall Gorge in Rocky Mountain National Park. It has been the subject of several quality TR lately. You can approach it either via a 2 mile skin to the base of the couloir and boot up it, or skin along the ridge up towards Flattop Mountain. We chose to boot up it and be able to judge the snow conditions as we went.

    A couple scenics.

    Tyndall Gorge:


    Close up of Halletts North Face:


    Body

    The Approach
    We set off from the parking lot a little after 7am. It was bluebird, with mild temperatures and little wind. The skin along the trail went by quickly, on hard, frozen, packed snow.

    Trees:


    We were able skin up the apron a little before switching to crampons.
    Prophet10:


    Shortly after:




    Some crazy ice:


    I led the bootpack the whole way, and it was brutal. There were sections of hard, exposed, frozen crust where it was easy to sink in front points, but most of it was 8-10" of heavy powder on top of a variable crust. As we got higher and it got warmer, the snow started to ball up on my boots, and every few steps I would have to knock it off.

    Halfway up, a skier and snowboarder that had approached from the back dropped in. They kicked off a small 4-8" wind slap at the top, which fell harmlessly down the middle of the couloir while we were hugging the rock wall.

    About two-thirds up, Prophet10 decided he didn't like the look of the cornice on top and had had enough, and waited while I topped out. The cornice was not as bad as it looked from below, and there was a section that just rolled over. The top great, with plenty of flat room and little wind. I geared up quickly to begin the decent.

    Views and lines:




    The Decent

    Looking over the roll over into the chute:

    To the left in this picture--down the fall line--is about 100 feet of cheese-grater rock bands/cliffs, i.e. no-fall zone. The traverse into the main chute was pretty scary.

    After that, the next few hundred feet went like this: make 2-3 committing jump turns, traverse to side to let heavy sluff roll past, repeat. It was challenging, but the base was stable and consistent.

    FRD:






    Prophet10:







    Note two skiers heading up. There were also 3 climbers that followed us up, and I met three more skier a the top of the couloir. We saw another half dozen people on the way out.

    Once the chute opened up a bit and the pitch mellowed out a little, we were able to open things up a little. The snow was wet and heavy, but smooth like butter.

    On the apron--the last 500 feet went down in about 6 turns; I almost coasted all the way across the lake.


    The ski out was painless, and we got back to the trail head before noon for about 4 1/2 hours round trip.

    Conclusion





    This was an awesome day on an awesome line. I'd like to hit again in winter powder conditions, but this was still great.

    Lessons learned:
    I'm buying a whippet before I do a line like this again. Climbing up the couloir, I had my axe in one hand and a pole in the other, but most of the time it was too steep for the pole to be useful in traditional fashion, and it would have provided a little more security on the exposed traverse into the chute. Any Boulder-area folks have one to sell?

    Besides the wet sluff, the snowpack was still bomber on our way down. However, the climbing and skiing would have been easier an hour or two earlier.

    While approaching from the back would probably have been much easier, it was good to know exactly what the conditions were going to be on the way down after climbing up.

    Enjoy, and get out there while it's still good.
    Last edited by FrontRangeDrummer; 04-27-2008 at 09:52 PM.

  2. #2
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    B+ for omission of a review of extant literature
    http://tetongravity.com/forums/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=932&dateline=12042516  96

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by lax View Post
    I was going to go all out with footnotes and a bibliography, but then I realized I should actually be working on my paper.

  4. #4
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    I hadn't been skiing in seven weeks
    Damn, seven weeks. Wasn't that when we hit first creek. This is not good. You're going to have to cram to make up for all that missed schooling. PM me if you need any help.

    Nice TR man.

  5. #5
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    a shitty part of CO
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    nice, way to get after it

    reading this: "I hadn't been skiing in seven weeks (grad school, recital, etc.)" i felt like i was writing it myself.... i am finishing up a jazz studies masters (guitar) this semester at northern colorado and have hardly skied in the past couple months for the same reasons.... i feel a little less disappointed in myself now after reading about your very similar situation.......

  6. #6
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    of course then i realize that you skied dragontail today and i..... still have hardly skied in the past couple months..... now i feel like a bitch again..... oh well, such is life.... anyway, nice work and good luck with the paper.....

  7. #7
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    dude, i don't know you from Adam, but please allow me to say ... very, very nice tr with stellar pix (note to self: get to RMNP .... that place is f'ing beeeeeutifull!!!!)

    please, for the love of God (and cause i want you around for future TRs), start your fucking tour a few hour ealier next time i know sleep feels good, but it is spring .... the season of early starts for long, lost, sought after mistresses in the mountains and early afternoon beers and mid afternoon naps and late afternoon TRs and Sunday evenings full of "homework" with a smile on ones face and a soul fulfilled .... comprende?!?!

    can't wait for the next one .......
    "... she'll never need a doctor; 'cause I check her out all day"

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by coloskier View Post
    Damn, seven weeks. Wasn't that when we hit first creek.
    Yep, that was the last time I was out.

    Quote Originally Posted by coloskier View Post
    You're going to have to cram to make up for all that missed schooling. PM me if you need any help.
    Will do.

    NJsurfer30~
    Cool. I'm halfway through my master's in percussion performance at CU. I have some music on my website (in signature). I didn't know there were any other serious musicians on this board. There will be plenty of good skiing left when school is done.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xover View Post
    please, for the love of God (and cause i want you around for future TRs), start your fucking tour a few hour ealier next time
    Point taken. See "Lessons learned." The base was still solid, but it was getting a little sloppy. I was a little worried seeing those two other skiers starting up the boot pack as we were exiting.

  10. #10
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    I would say this beats being in the library.

  11. #11
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    Nice work. That's a really fun line.
    Ride Fast, Live slow.

    We're mountain people. This is what we do, this is how we live. -D.C.

  12. #12
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    FRD - So glad you answered the call of duty. Good to take down a great line with you...

  13. #13
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    Thumbs up

    NICE!

    123456789

  14. #14
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    coloRADo
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    Kick ass TR Carl! Like Xover said, RMNP is indeed extremely beautiful, there's so many steep, exposed, and panoramic lines to do! Love that place.

  15. #15
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    excellent TR,
    some pretty stunning pics.
    way to put your studies into proper perspective...
    and hope you got back on track w/your paper after the little break.

  16. #16
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    Damn nice pics man.


    Makes me bummed I can't get out this spring. I <3 RMNP spring skiing. Glad to see folks getting the spring classics this year.

  17. #17
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    I can hear it from the funky drummer. nice.
    On first

  18. #18
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    It sucks when school gets in the way of fun.

  19. #19
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    How did the looker's left branch look? That's the side with the rock step, yes? (and is called Dragon's Tooth?)

  20. #20
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    Love it!
    Have fun or get hurt bad. "MFT" A.K.A. Dr. Doom

    There are but three true sports--bullfighting, mountain climbing, and motor-racing. The rest are merely games. "Ernest Hemingway"

  21. #21
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    Dec 2005
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    Looking good Carl. Not as predictable as usual.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by spthomson View Post
    How did the looker's left branch look? That's the side with the rock step, yes? (and is called Dragon's Tooth?)
    The first picture was about as good of a view I got of it. You can't really see up into it from the main chute. It looked passable with some sideslipping/traversing, but maybe not a clean pure decent.


    Mongo~
    What do you think--was that extreme enough for a free pair of Wedell skis?

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