Forums Trip Reports CJ Couloir May 11
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    The first view of CJ Couloir in the center

    Sometimes you make a great plan, the conditions are perfect, the approach is easy, and everything is right when the world.

    Other times you’re an idiot, the approach is ridiculous, snow is questionable, and you are left questioning your sanity.

    Saturday was not one of the former.

    With the hot weather from this week I wanted to stick to something that didn’t get direct sun. I decided that CJ fit the bill perfectly, it faces north and the walls of Cascade and Johannesburg should have given shade also. I *hoped* that the intense heat and sun would have left little snow behind to slide.

    Brian and I left Seattle at 3am and met up with Ilia in Marblemount around 5:20. We drove out to the gate and loaded up all our gear on the packs deciding to hike in trail runners on the melted road. As we went up the road we discussed the lack of snow down low.

    The ever imposing Johannesburg

    Somehow we decided that there would be no snow up at the summer lot (because the road can’t be closed for a reason). We also assumed there would be a creek opened up, and we would have no downed trees available to make a bridge that far up the valley. This is when keeping it real got dumb. We decided to just cross the valley now.


    The *first* creek crossing was easily negotiated, we made a bridge with three logs, and only fell in the creek once!

    Herp. Herp a Derp.

    It got no better after this, multiple creeks were crossed

    and much alder was cursed.

    Where’s Ilia?

    Then we got to a point where we could see up the valley………to the wide open snow field that goes right from the road at the switchback and straight across the valley. We are so dumb.*It was also at this point that Brian realized a snowboard boot had come off his binding in the alder somewhere. He ran back while Ilia and I dried our socks and took in the view. Cascade Peak in Foreground, The Triplets, and Cascade Pass to the left

    The boot was recovered quickly and we switched to touring for a bit.

    Touring proved quite difficult in the weeks avy debris, I was quite envious of Ilia’s ski crampons. Upon getting to the base of the CJ couloir we left our skins and shoes on rocks to dry out and switched to crampons.

    We looked at the weeks slide paths and discussed the approach more. It was clear that large slides had come down Johannesburg during the week, but there was still a good sized cornice above the couloir to the right of CJ, but it had a defined path that didn’t cross our route. Also we had only heard one rock fall and seen no slide activity all day. We decided to stay climbers left of the large gulley created by slides ealier in the week and that we would cross the crux one at a time.
    We spread out a bit and started up toward the crux.

    As Brian got up to the crux we heard a rumble, looking up on Johannesburg we saw a small slide coming off a cliff and into the path on the other side of rocks to climbers right. I caught up to Ilia and just as we started to discuss turning back I heard a LARGE rumble. We looked up to see a very large wall of white coming off Johannesburg. It hit the slope bellow and this time it was large enough that some of it was shooting past the large slide path climbers right of the rocks……and into the crux of CJ. Brian’s nifty diagram:

    Even though we were a good distance away from the slide path we still RAN further from it. All the snow stayed contained in the gully that was formed by slides earlier in the week and was moving at a decent speed for a wet slide. There were also rocks. The possibility of severe injury was obvious.

    We got our gear on, rode down to grab out skins and shoes, and then took a couple hundred vertical feet of rock solid debris out to the valley. The slide that had just occurred only went out about a quarter of the distance that slides earlier in the week had.
    The runnel climbers right was VERY deep now

    Once in the valley we had lunch and decided to do a lap on the mellow part of cascade pass to salvage something of the day.
    We left our axes, shoes, and helmets near the road. The tour up cascades pass was uneventful, other then seeing a constant shedding of snow from Cascade. Saw a tasty little couloir that I wish I had the energy for (came back 2 weeks later to get that one). The turns were a bit gloppy but still enjoyable. The 2 mile hike out was nice and easy, we decided to stay on the road this time and out of the alders!

    700 Posts

    Oof! Lookin’ kinda manked. Cool tale though, nicely told.

    474 Posts

    Sometimes you make a great plan, the conditions are perfect, the approach is easy, and everything is right when the world.

    Other times you’re an idiot, the approach is ridiculous, snow is questionable, and you are left questioning your sanity.

    Yup! I know and love this well.

    We all have those days, and those are the ones that are most memorable. Looks like you lacked enough Type 1 fun on this trip to make it a true epic huh? But I bet you’ll never forget it. Adventure is the best part, the line is just a nice reward that you don’t always get.

    Glad you guys made it unscathed and thanks for sharing!

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