Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2004 8:18 pm Posts: 270 Location: Bishop, Ca
Feather Peak North Couloir - 2/5/06
From the Pine Creek trailhead, the forest is very thick and the summer trail is hard to find. So I decided to ignore the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœno trespassing' sign and walk the road up to the mine. Apparently you're not supposed to do this, but at 4:30 in the morning I figured there wouldn't be anyone around to tell me otherwise. At the far end of the mine there is a bridge across the river, and it supposedly meets up with the hiking trail. With the snow, the trail was hard to follow and with my little headlamp I couldn't see more than 15 feet ahead. At this point the river flows through a narrow canyon with big rock walls, and I was worried about going too high and ending up on top of a cliff. But with the river flowing below me, I also didn't want to go to low and end up in the water. I found some coyote tracks and decided to follow him over an improbable ledge in the cliff. The tracks led down to the river, and the beginning of the snowbridge. Those things are pretty smart.
The river sits in a canyon that is very narrow and steep in parts. Most of it is covered in a snowbridge right now, but there are still a bunch of open waterfalls that need to be carefully negotiated. I can't imagine carrying an overnight pack up that thing. With more snow this would be much different. But right now there are trees, bushes, rocks, etcÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ in a narrow riverbed. The rock walls limit your space for doing switchbacks and it's at a low elevation so the snow is frozen.
And it goes on like this for almost 3000 feet.
At the top of the canyon the angle mellows quite a bit, and I finally got a view of my destination.
Feather is tucked away in the background on the left side:
From there it's a very gradual climb through the trees and over a small col to Royce Lakes.
A dead tree:
Merriam, Royce and Feather:
From Royce Lakes it's still a mellow skin all the way to the base of the couloir:
I had read somewhere that the Feather Couloir tops out at 60 degrees, but that is definitely not true. I'd say the steepest it gets is closer to 45 degrees, but it's still plenty exciting as it maintains that pitch for at least 1000 feet.
The top of the couloir kicks back and has a great area to drop gear and hang out on the rocks. From there it's a short scramble to the summit. 9 hours after leaving the car I was finally on top.
Views looking north and west:
Seven Gables North Peak. 300 more inches of snow and this one is going down:
Somewhere out there:
Looking down the couloir:
The snow in the couloir was mostly powder and soft windboard.
Another look at the peak:
From Royce Lakes I chose to go down a separate drainage and ended up doing more skiing than snowboarding. But when the snow is soft, even skiing downhill can be fun!
From there it was a long walk across the flats and then a long ride down the canyon to Pine Creek.
There were people working at the mine so I figured I wouldn't be able to cut through there. I rode back towards the parking lot and dropped down into the forest. That was a mistake. It took me longer to go downhill than it did to hike uphill in the morning, as I thrashed my way through the densest forest in the Eastern Sierra. Take note: DON'T do this. Either stay high and traverse above the forest or plead your case with the people at the mine to walk down the road. I don't know how I got through those trees without breaking my leg.
After 12 1/2 hours, and battling through the forest I finally made it back to the car.
Joined: Sun Nov 28, 2004 6:42 pm Posts: 62 Location: folsom, ca
fitting movie excerpt for BCD:
BCD: "Now i want you to go in that bag and find my wallet"
Robber: 'Which one is it?'
BCD: "It's the one that says Bad Motherf*cker on it!"
Well done BCD. That's a long day. Yeah, about that 60 degree thing. I remember reading that too(i think the secor book). Maybe in the fall when the ice is condition it has some bulges??
Whattever it is, very proud line. kudos to ya. Please do keep posting all your adventures
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2004 8:41 pm Posts: 1619 Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Nice as usual! Did you get a good look at the other 2 chutes on Feather? I'm surprised you didn't decide to be a maniac and hit all 3 (like Zellers in the "impressive effort" Moynier mentions in his book - though I'd say that every one of your TR's redefines "impressive effort" in my book)!