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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    CO
    Posts
    5,017

    Cool TR: Pacific Peak, North Couloir 13,950' 5.17.06

    Pacific Peak 13,950'
    Tenmile Range
    North Couloir




    Pacific Peak sits only 50' shy of being a 14er, but its complexity combined with its staggering and intimidating north face make it much more interesting than a lot of the surrounding 14ers. Pacific Peak is best recognized for its classic pyramid shape when viewed from the north and along HWY 91 coming from Copper Mountain.

    The main attraction of Pacific is the North Couloir, a 60 degree narrow-walled couloir that runs just below the summit down to the Spruce Creek drainage. This route is a well-known mountaineering and ice climbing route later in the spring once the snow has turned into a bulletproof sheet of glazed ice.

    Closeup of the line from a recon mission a few weeks ago:



    There's something about skiing climbing routes that really makes me excited. All my climbing friends tell me that I am crazy for trying to ski routes that are rated as ice climbs or technical pitches without protection. That's what makes this sport fun and keeps me fresh each time I go out into the backcountry. Why not try to push the limits a little farther? Why not attempt something that others think can't be done? In my opinion everything can be skied. As long as there is snow, there is a way down that route with skis on your feet. Plain and simple. There is no, "That can't be skied..." in my book. This is what keeps the sport fresh for me and gives me different perspectives on mountains.

    This would be the third attempt at skiing this gem. Last summer Kya and I reached the summit to find out that we were too late in the season to make a safe descent down the couloir. It had already turned into some of the nastiest bulletproof ice I have seen. Without ropes and protection there was no way I was going to commit to that line.

    A couple of weeks ago a group of us got shut down on an attempt to ski the north couloir. We were slowed down by the class 3/4 west facing knife ridge that leads up to the summit. Weather moved in and out the entire time, leaving the summit in a cloud and zero visibility. We decided to bag it and go for a shorter run down the fun and steep NW facing slopes.


    Early morning creeping up on Drift Peak:



    With the milder weather we've had over the past week I thought it would be a good time to give it a go one more time. After a long day in the hot sun the previous morning, I was a little drained, but itching to get on that route. mbsc and I decided to give it a shot and take things slow since I wasn't up to par. We skinned up from the Mayflower Gulch TH into the basin that separates Pacific from Atlantic Peak.

    Bright morning sun coming over Pacific:




    Skinning up the lower drainage:



    The last time we were up there we noticed a continuous snowfield that ran from the bottom of the basin up to just below the summit. We had both agreed it would be an easier approach, so we went for it.


    mbsc climbing her way up:




    Turns out it was much easier and saved us some time. The snow on the boot pack was well consolidated and froze over nicely the previous night.

    Drift Peak holding good snow:



    We were in the shade for most of the climb which made it much more comfortable and cooler for the climb up.


    mbsc approaching the last steep climb to the summit:




    We reached the dramatic summit block sometime after 10:00AM and spent some time checking out the views and taking in this most beautiful day.


    Standing atop the sub-summit of Pacific:




    I was spent and felt like garbage, but couldn't back down again. So, we sat back and took a small nap on the summit to rest up for our descent.

    Relaxing on the summit looking towards the snow-less Mosquito Range:



    I woke up about 45 minutes later and felt even worse than I did before. Short naps like that make me more tired and sluggish, so it took me a bit to get myself together for the descent.


    mbsc on top of the summit block:





    We down climbed off the summit block and poked around the top of the couloir. We found some soft snow resting on a well-consolidated base. The sun had just begun to creep up the couloir and soften things up. Along the lower ridgeline draining into the same basin we noticed a bunch of wet releases coming down off the rock bands. Things were beginning to get sloppy down lower, so time was of essence.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    CO
    Posts
    5,017

    Smile

    MBSC dropped in first and carefully side slipped down through the steep choke.

    mbsc making her way into the couloir:




    Working through the narrow crux:












    She worked her way down the couloir to a safe spot. There's nothing like working through the crux right off the bat. No turns to warm-up and no easy way into this thing. I clicked into my skis and looked straight down the gut of this thing and the butterflies began to fly around in my stomach. At that moment I wished that my skis were 20cm shorter, as the crux was certainly going to be a bitch.


    Working my way into the couloir:



    Yes, it is steep:




    I gingerly side slipped into the upper section and after 10' or so I got my tips and tails caught on the walls of the couloir. Damn! I quickly realized it was going to be a lot harder than I had expected. It's always interesting trying to fit a 188cm ski through a 168cm wide ski route. I worked my way down inch by inch. The entire time the only edges that were in contact were the tips and tails scraping on rock. I could feel my skis bending dramatically underneath my feet as I bounced a bit after each step. Sweat began to roll down my face as I was caught in an awkward position and there wasn't much I could do to make it easier. Hindsight began to kick-in and I had wished that I had rappelled through the crux to make things a bit easier. Oh well, nothing I could do about it now. After some time I made it through the narrow rock band and things began to open up. The 168cm ski route was now at least double the width! A sense of relief came about and I continued to ski down past MBSC.

    A little relieved to be making turns:




    Jump turns into a hip check:










    Once I got a few turns past her I noticed the snow was much sloppier and the top layer was sloughing at a good rate.












    Since there were no safe spots for me to stop I continued to ski all the way down to the flats. I yelled back up to mbsc to come down and she worked her way down the line safely.


    mbsc:














    It was amazing how the snow turned to mush so quickly in that chute.

    The line:





    Closer look:




    We worked our way across the valley to a mellow snow-less slope so we could climb back out of the basin. The climb out wasn't all that difficult, as most of the slope was grass. We worked our way up and over the false summit to Crystal and then down the nasty boulder field to the Mayflower side of the peak. We were able to ski back down the way we came up all the way to the car. It felt good to finally get that line, but it didn't come easy.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Kilpisjärvi, Finland
    Posts
    695
    Impressive line.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    PDX
    Posts
    418
    YEAH!!!



    Nice! Way to get back there and tag it.
    To have a great adventure and survive requires good judgment. Good judgment comes from experience. And experience, of course, is the result of poor judgment. -Geoff Tabin

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Where the Butte is Crested
    Posts
    3,339
    Thanks for writing a fantastic TR iskibc I'm so glad we got that line. Dang was that thing steep!!!!!

    It was a great day. At the summit, you could see for miles and miles. There was no wind, and I could have probably just sat up there and taken a nap for a few hours.

    The entrance to the couloir was a bit tricky for sure. Notice the 2 pics with each of us standing on the peaks... well, the entrance to the coulie was in between those 2 peaks.

    Thanks again iskibc
    -
    14erskiers.com

    "Don't be afraid of the spaces between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so." - Belva Davis

    "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle"--Albert Einstein

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    7,808
    You two rock, that was awesome.
    way to get it done.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    gone north, but still on the west side
    Posts
    1,676
    Sweet TR and rad line - spring coolies are fun!

    Way to get after it!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Golden
    Posts
    6,239

    Thumbs up

    Inspiring.
    Drive slow, homie.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    SLC
    Posts
    1,127
    that is sick. looks like a really fun line

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    3,997
    Yikes!!! and Yumm!
    You two are killin' me.

    Quote Originally Posted by iskibc
    I gingerly side slipped into the upper section and after 10' or so I got my tips and tails caught on the walls of the couloir. Damn! I quickly realized it was going to be a lot harder than I had expected. It's always interesting trying to fit a 188cm ski through a 168cm wide ski route. I worked my way down inch by inch. The entire time the only edges that were in contact were the tips and tails scraping on rock. I could feel my skis bending dramatically underneath my feet as I bounced a bit after each step. Sweat began to roll down my face as I was caught in an awkward position and there wasn't much I could do to make it easier. Hindsight began to kick-in and I had wished that I had rappelled through the crux to make things a bit easier. Oh well, nothing I could do about it now.




  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Jackson, WY
    Posts
    5,652
    me likey! tough to focus on work when these kind of shots keep you daydreaming about the weekend ahead... thanks for the continued stoke!


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Denver
    Posts
    2,055
    SO SWEET!!! THAT'S THE BEST LINE IN SUMMIT COUNTY

    NICELY DONE

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    SE Alaska
    Posts
    11,704
    Quote from Mark Twight:

    "No self respecting climber would ever climb anything that has been skied."

    Nice work.

    It's even more fun skiing past roped up climbers.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Alco-Hall of Fame
    Posts
    3,098
    .
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    "It is not the result that counts! It is not the result but the spirit! Not what - but how. Not what has been attained - but at what price.
    - A. Solzhenitsyn

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    The Continental Divide
    Posts
    7,288
    Good get. Fritz wanted to do that one this year - can't remember why we didn't go though...

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Alco-Hall of Fame
    Posts
    3,098
    Just a quick comment about some of the shameless sandbagging going on here:

    iski said he felt like crap
    all but one of the pictures shows MBSC well behind iski
    MBSC is an elite ultra MTB racer

    "It is not the result that counts! It is not the result but the spirit! Not what - but how. Not what has been attained - but at what price.
    - A. Solzhenitsyn

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Fillmore Lounge
    Posts
    10,046
    Mid May radness. Thanks guys!
    Quote Originally Posted by oftpiste View Post
    too much chatter and not enough clam.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    schoolszone
    Posts
    699


    nice!!
    money shot there
    way to git it

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    North Vancouver/Whistler
    Posts
    9,810
    iskibc - how the hell did you get that shot with the camera looking down the skis. That's just about the last thing I'd think of doing standing on top of something that steep.

    Also luv that shot of jump turns into hip-check. That's my patented method!

    mbsc - nice going! Not that its a race but get that sandbagger!

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Squampton, BC
    Posts
    844
    Damn gettin after it! Awesome line!

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    la la land
    Posts
    5,608
    Do you ever work??????

    Way to get it done you two
    `•.¸¸.•´><((((º>`•.¸¸.•´¯`•.¸.•´¯`•...¸><((((º>

    "Having been Baptized by uller his frosty air now burns my soul with confirmation. I am once again pure." - frozenwater

    "once i let go of my material desires many opportunities for playing with the planet emerge. emerge - to come into being through evolution. ok back to work - i gotta pack." - Slaag Master

    "As for Flock of Seagulls, everytime that song comes up on my ipod, I turn it up- way up." - goldenboy

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Fallbroke, SD-CA
    Posts
    1,655
    Stellar work, sir and lady!

    <drooling with a green face>

    Btw, are you two getting married or something...been doing a shitload of bc together with just the two of you...all alone out there, no-one around, hmmmmmmm.

    Sweet TR full of fine pictures, as usual you never disappoint.

    peace,
    D.
    "There's a truth that sanity denies...." --Sprung Monkey

  23. #23
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Haaksbergen, the Netherlands
    Posts
    138
    Impressive!

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Alco-Hall of Fame
    Posts
    3,098
    Quote Originally Posted by Bodhi
    Stellar work, sir and lady!
    Btw, are you two getting married or something...been doing a shitload of bc together with just the two of you...all alone out there, no-one around, hmmmmmmm.
    Eeewww

    They're brother and sister asshole.





    "It is not the result that counts! It is not the result but the spirit! Not what - but how. Not what has been attained - but at what price.
    - A. Solzhenitsyn

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Eagle River Alaska
    Posts
    10,780
    CAW CAW CAW
    Its not that I suck at spelling, its that I just don't care

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