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 Post subject: TR: NW Couloir of Mt. Shuksan!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:56 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:24 pm
Posts: 75
Location: Seattle, Wa/Chamonix, France
It has been FIRING the last month in Washington as you may have known. Mt. Baker has the second largest snowpack in the world right now at 157.9 inches, not very surprising, right? After the entire Mt. Baker ski area closed for 3 days during the snowpocalypse we've had epic blue-bird days for the past week or so. I taught a backcountry splitboard course through AAI last weekend in Mt. Baker's backcountry and was tormented, looking up at Mt. Shuksan for three days straight. The NW Courloir was looking so irresistible with the stable snowpack we've had with only further stability projected. I was hoping to get up there before the weather/stability shifted or I'd surely loose my mind!

What I had to look at for 3 days:
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Here's a zoomed in shot of the route from the BD website. The NW couloir is a 50 degree, super exposed line. It starts with the blind roll-over at the top which can be pretty intimidating, then you get to the choke which is a short section of 50 degrees. At the base of the choke you make a sketchy exposed skiers left traverse, above some cliffs, out of the couloir onto the face. After this you enjoy a steep slide down 2,500 +/-, which gradually turns into a less gripped free-riding frenzy down to the Salmon Creek drainage. We shredded from the col at the top of the Crystal Glacier at about 8,600ft down to Salmon Creek drainage at 3,000ft. Making this about a 5,600 ft line! STOKED!
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Blaine and Rhett, Pro patrol watch out! We left Bham at 2:45am, leaving the Mt. Baker parking lot at 4:45am. None of us had been up Shuksan before so we were playing it safe time-wise. A 4:45am departure proved to be more than enough time.
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Sunrise on the skin up the White Salmon Glacier.
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Mt. Baker at sunrise, so epic!
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Me at our high point and the only sun we enjoyed the whole climb/descent. Shuksan summit pyramid behind me.
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Rhett dropping. Since none of us had been on Shuksan or knew exactly where the entrance to the NW Couloir was, we dropped in far skiers right against the rocks in a well defined steep couloir. We descended about 400 ft when it turned to blue ice and cliffed out right above the NW Couloir. We could see down the entire line but there was no way to get down safely with 4,000 feet exposure below. I anchored myself into the blue ice, carefully changed over to crampons and we all hiked out. When we dropped in again we stayed more skiers left and dropped over the blind roll-over to a steep face with no crevasses that led directly to the entrance of the couloir. Ya live and learn...
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Blaine's textbook jump-turns into the choke, the traverse below.
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So stoked to be done with crux and heel side traverse, I put my axe away and we prepare for shred.
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Steep, kind of scary but the snow was firm and edge-able pow the entire way. It got a little variable towards the bottom of the face but soon after turned to fluffy goodness.
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We began hiking out of the drainage at 1:30pm, had a 700ft climb then skin/ski back a cat-track to the White Salmon Lodge. Plenty of time for champagne in the parking lot staring up at Shuksan as the sun went down. Good times had by all! Thanks Blaine and Rhett for a great day!

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 Post subject: Re: TR: NW Couloir of Mt. Shuksan!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:28 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2004 4:18 pm
Posts: 324
Location: NW/BC/Montana
Nice! That sure is a fun line. Glad you guys had better conditions than when I rode it last year, when there was lurking ice on the traverse :shock:

Cool to see some big lines going down in December


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 Post subject: Re: TR: NW Couloir of Mt. Shuksan!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:51 pm 
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Joined: Sat Aug 13, 2011 4:27 pm
Posts: 608
Location: Rainier Beach
Inspiring! What an iconic line -- I've stared at that thing every time I've been at Baker with visability, that one is going on my hit list for sure. Thanks for sharing!


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 Post subject: Re: TR: NW Couloir of Mt. Shuksan!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 5:32 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:33 pm
Posts: 39
Hell Yeah Liz! That is such a sick route and HUGE line. Way to get after it!


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 Post subject: Re: TR: NW Couloir of Mt. Shuksan!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:19 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 12, 2006 6:40 pm
Posts: 738
Location: Seattle
Nice work Liz. Looks good.


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 Post subject: Re: TR: NW Couloir of Mt. Shuksan!
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 4:38 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 10:05 am
Posts: 1516
Location: Colorado
Hey Liz, thanks for sharing. Way to get a great line in good conditions, that entrance adds some nice spice to the experience as well, with a fun payoff!
Well done.

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 Post subject: Re: TR: NW Couloir of Mt. Shuksan!
PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:48 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 2:38 pm
Posts: 326
Location: Fairhaven
Nicely done Liz! :bananas:
It's an amazing mountain and that's a solid line to ride.

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 Post subject: Re: TR: NW Couloir of Mt. Shuksan!
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:21 am 
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Joined: Fri May 13, 2005 8:05 am
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Location: 395
Nicely slayed! :rock:


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 Post subject: Re: TR: NW Couloir of Mt. Shuksan!
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:46 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 8:51 am
Posts: 640
Nice work, I always wanted to get out on that line.


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 Post subject: Re: TR: NW Couloir of Mt. Shuksan!
PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:50 am 
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Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2007 11:18 pm
Posts: 939
Location: reiter hills
cruxy heel side traverses.. yum. :clap:

nice work oh ambassodor of awesomeness. :bow:


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 Post subject: Re: TR: NW Couloir of Mt. Shuksan!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:25 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:08 am
Posts: 128
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Some alaskan shit there... :drool:

We are truly not f&%kin worthy! :bow:


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