Forums Trip Reports jimw hasn’t "plateaued" yet!
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  • #571497
    BGnight
    1382 Posts

    3/27-3/28
    DAY 1: Did a solo tour up to the Matterhorn to do the west couloir. Ran into two couples in morning coming out from an over nighter who said the winds were nuking the day before. Today was breathless.
    Skinning was as efficient as it could have been. Crust down low was child’s play w/ crampons and there was basically a sidewalk all the way to my objective.

    Rockin’ the chomps:

    Horse creek:

    Even w/ nuking winds the previous day, there was awesome pow to be had everywhere. The sawtooths seem to hold good snow longer than most places.

    Sweet zone that begs for tracks:

    Notice the deep pow on either side of my boards, yet I do not sink thanks to my ninja skinning techniques!

    Ski dreams on left w/ my objective on right. some skiers decided to ruin ski dreams for everyone else by cutting huge switchbacks across the entire fall line of the apron up into the chute.( Someone had skinned entirely all the way up east cooly too, but all that thing is good for is ascending.) This is a pet peave of mine. DO NOT SKIN UP CHUTES. SKIN FROM THE SIDE:

    Pretty good snow all the way up chute. Powder, powder sastrugi, windbuffed, etc..

    View of backside:

    Down the line. Take a left at the snow spine:

    Schralped!

    A magical solo day overall

    DAY 2: Met up w/ jimw for first time at the Momart in Lee Vining. You’ll never guess where we went! 😆
    Jim had delusions of grandeur and talked me into lugging a ski rope in my pack for the Liberty chute. I obliged by carrying one of the two ropes for him, but I left my harness as I wasn’t feeling “xtreme” today. I told him I’d give him moral support though! 😀

    We ascended powerhouse in slightly better conditions that last time jim and scruffy were out here.

    After a less than enjoyable booting session down low (jim toughed out the windboard on skins) we gained the upper valley and very warm temps.
    Powerhouse chutes come into view:

    This is what I would ride down at end of day. Dropped in on lookers left side of photo between rocks on ridge. The same way we climbed up too:

    We donned verts and started ascending:

    One thing I learned about Jim, is he’s very comfortable verting around on steep, firm snow w/ only whippets (I had two ice axes). The thing was pretty fucking steep at top w/ pretty firm windbuffed. I was whimpering like a little boy by the time we topped out. To make the top out real interesting, the last 5 feet was sugar snow on a 50++ degree slope. Jim couldn’t go straight up so he had to traverse under a rock. When I followed I was absolutely gripped/fatigued at this point. I didn’t want to have to traverse in sugar 5 feet from top and at same time underclinging a rock w/ the top of my board hitting feeling like I was gonna peel off backward. Jim should have some pics of me crying somewhere. I told him at the top that “this is why I quit climbing. I’m sick of being fucking scared!” That was honestly as gripped as I’ve been climbing snow even though it’s somewhat straight forward.

    We walked over to look at 3rd pillar chute and Jim starts downverting firm snow into the chute to get a look. Me: “uh, Jim. where ya going?” He says it didn’t go so off to look at liberty.

    Here’s a shot of liberty taken by a friend 6 or 7 years ago:

    We get to liberty and it looks really filled in. Only one rope would be needed to rap in. Before ya know it Jim starts down climbing rock w/ pack and snowboard boots on into the chute!
    Me: “Jim, why are you climbing down?”
    Jim: “I think it goes” (or something similar)
    Me (frightened): “uh, why don’t you just rappel?”
    Jim: “yeah, ok” (or something similar)

    Jim in good spirits w/ impending doom right behind him:

    Here I go!:

    I hope that anchors good!:

    Jim measures the slope at 55 degrees. Fun place to put on a snowboard:

    Strapped in, Jim contemplates his demise:

    umm, be careful w/ that thing:

    At least there was good snow in the upper section. However at only 10 feet wide, 55 degrees, and off camber, you couldn’t exactly “shred” it:

    Jim radio’s up at bottom of the narrows: “this sucks!”. Since this things sees sun in the morning this time of year, the entire lower chute was refrozen crust.
    Jim wondering what a turn would be like :D:

    Jim finally survives his way down and he makes plans to do a quick skin and ride another chute down to the road. I go over to powerhouse and drop in. The first turn on my run was engaging. My legs literally shaking w/ fatigue/fear, 30lb pack on, 50 degree windbuffed, I finally commit to a heelside jumpturn and stop about 50 vertical feet lower than where I started. After that my heeby jeebies were over and I enjoyed the run down. I also found the whole bottom of the chute had a large debris pile coming out the bottom (right where the best snow was earlier 🙁 ). Apparently a cornice and come off the top and trundled down the middle of the chute. By the looks of the slide it caused it must have been of considerable size. The scary part was it came down the gut right where we climbed up.

    Jim radio’s his position and I find him w/ my telephoto down below. Crappy conditions for photos, but photoshop helps a lot:

    This is a really neat looking chute and Jim reported good conditions compared to liberty chute.

    Good day Jim! We’ll have to ride again soon (away from the plateau?)

    #616157
    Nikon
    218 Posts

    so…uh…Jim. Where’s the footage from that helmet cam? 😯

    #616158
    D-GREEN
    336 Posts

    AWESOME!!!…A+++

    #616159
    Ecobrad
    2068 Posts

    Sweet TR and amazing lines. Let’s say it all together “JIM HAS BIG BALLS” :rock:

    #616160
    TEX
    2486 Posts

    Oh BG, I feel your pain. I have climbed up that headwall with the same conditions, watching Jim to see if he will relent but NO he just keeps chargin.

    Then when at the top he is like a litle kid. You have to keep your eye on him, when you look up he sittin on a loose rock slab over a 1000 foot drop eatin a granola bar or screwin with his phone 😯

    Way to put your rappel class into practice Jim, Im sorry I missed this trip

    #616161
    fustercluck
    668 Posts

    :thumbsup:

    #616162
    SanFrantastico
    1514 Posts

    Okay good… I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets sketched following Jimw around. Great pics… can’t wait for the helmet cam either.

    Putting the poo in swimming pool since 1968.

    #616155
    bcrider
    4150 Posts

    Really great stuff! Looks like two rad days. :thatrocks:

    #616154
    bcrider
    4150 Posts

    ps. BG, you’ve been taking the SLR recently? I’ve seen a couple pics I might be able to use in the last few TRs.

    and jimw, you riding this thing switch? 🙂

    #616153
    BGnight
    1382 Posts

    I just take my point and shoot when I’m solo, but I’ll take the boat anchor when I’m w/ someone.
    Let me know what photos you’re thinking of. I just have photoshop lightroom, but that can do quite a bit. So, I can recrop/develop w/e photos you want in different ways since I usually just wing it the first time. (they’re all raw)

    I finally started exporting photos in sRBG instead of AdobeRBG which was set as default. AdobeRBG really screwed up the colors. I have a book on lightroom but have never read it. I just keep screwing around w/ stuff till it works or looks good. For example, I recently learned that if you’re shooting snow shots in the shade, you can turn up the blue luminance and it turns the snow whiter. You just can’t have sky in the photo or it turns it white too.

    Now I just need more practice composing shots. I’m just too lazy to take the time to think them through in the moment like bcd, Zcanton.

    #616163
    mtnrider
    740 Posts

    Sick guys. Stoked on the rappel Jim. What size rope were you carrying?

    :thumpsup:

    #616164
    wavy
    198 Posts

    Wow, I think I just pooed myself. I should’ve known better than to read this at work.
    Good job guys!

    #616165
    BGnight
    1382 Posts

    We had two 30m 8mm ropes

    #616166
    dude_reino
    467 Posts

    After reading this story I laid down and kissed my living room floor for about 10 minutes! 50 degrees is my threshold…and 45 is just scary enough! 50 degrees in sugar snow and traversing onto rock?! No thanks.

    #616167
    powderjunkie
    1669 Posts

    Killer. :headbang:

    I’ll wait til that shit softens up more. 😆

    #616168
    jimw
    1421 Posts

    BGnight, cool to finally meet you, and thanks for putting up with my plateau fixation, providing moral support, and carrying the other rope! Though I guess we still haven’t actually gotten to ride together yet. Next time. Wish I coulda motivated for Friday, looks like you scored epic conditions on a cool line!

    I’ll post some pics soon, after I clean the poop out of my snowboard pants. I forgot the Shart Shorts ™, coulda used them this time! 😯

    BCR, I was wondering if anyone noticed that I totally shralped that thing switch. I like to switch it up once in a while, keeps me on my toes so to speak. 🙂

    But seriously. I wouldn’t say I “rode” it; more like I entered at the top, and came out the bottom in one piece. I made extensive use of my “xtreme OMG-I’m-gonna-die-if-I-slip” survival technique in the upper half of the chute… a.k.a. the toeside falling leaf. I hate having to do that in any chute, but I’ll take survival over style any day. Of course, the obvious question is why rap into something if you’re not going to be able to ride it clean? Well it was probably a bit of wishful thinking on my part, but it seemed like conditions would be OK. The snow in Powerhouse was pretty good, but it’s more N/NE facing so we expected it to be a bit more wintery. I downclimbed a bit into the top of 3rd Pillar, and it was decent too, certainly edgeable. But I keep forgetting that the top part of that chute is more NE facing too and more protected from the sun. The majority of Liberty faces due east and gets a bunch of sun in the spring… except the very top. Which is where we threw the rocks, and saw them disappear into the soft snow. If the snow in the main chute had been like that, it would have been awesome. It also seemed like the snowpack up high was still kinda transitioning to spring, so I thought there might be some lingering pockets of good snow. And there were, just not in the top half of the chute. Oh well. I’ll go back and get it in better conditions someday.

    But it was certainly a great learning experience to rap into it. Big thanks to dishwasher-dave, PJ, and certain other folks for showing me the ropes so to speak. A few random comments on the rap for anyone interested:

    – As BGnight said, we carried two 30m ropes, 8mm diameter (BD Rando). The rap ended up being pretty short in this case (one rope was just long enough), but that upper section could be tough to negotiate depending on snow conditions and how many people are rapping in. Better to have two ropes, you can tie them together if necessary.

    – A standard belay device doesn’t provide much friction on an 8mm rope for a rappel. I have one of those BD ones with the extra friction mode, and even with that it can be difficult to completely brake your descent. And lord help you if anything happens (rockfall, you slip, etc) and your brake hand slips. So I used an autoblock backup below the belay device, with the device extended about a foot away from the harness via a runner (so the autoblock couldn’t accidentally hit the belay device). This works great, is easy to set up, and let me easily control the descent (and stop for a granola bar midway and call TEX on the phone).

    – There was already an anchor in place up there, that seemed pretty solid. We backed it up though with two more slings though, just in case.

    – Transitioning was tricky, to say the least. I clipped in to my ice axe while transitioning, and set the board up toeside so I was already facing the direction I wanted to be for best edge control and self-arrest/self-belay (I could see how Flow-type bindings would be really useful in this case!). Also, on top of that there is definitely more pressure than usual to transition quickly, because you have this big cornice sitting right above you and no safe zone.

    Speaking of cornices, now that temps are warming up it’s cornice-fall season, as we found out in Powerhouse. So be on the lookout. We climbed to the left edge of the chute to stay out of the direct line of the cornices above, but you’re never completely out of the danger zone, especially in the middle at the narrower part of the chute. See BGnight, aren’t you glad I made you waste all that time over at Liberty, so that you weren’t in that chute when the cornice broke off? 😮

    #616169
    Ecobrad
    2068 Posts

    You’re a kook…and motivated. When answering a question about the style of his first decent down Black Ice Couloir (or something like that, please correct me if I am) Stephen Koch said something like “if you don’t like I had good style go do it better”.

    @jimw wrote:

    BGnight, cool to finally meet you, and thanks for putting up with my plateau fixation, providing moral support, and carrying the other rope! Though I guess we still haven’t actually gotten to ride together yet. Next time. Wish I coulda motivated for Friday, looks like you scored epic conditions on a cool line!

    I’ll post some pics soon, after I clean the poop out of my snowboard pants. I forgot the Shart Shorts ™, coulda used them this time! 😯

    BCR, I was wondering if anyone noticed that I totally shralped that thing switch. I like to switch it up once in a while, keeps me on my toes so to speak. 🙂

    But seriously. I wouldn’t say I “rode” it; more like I entered at the top, and came out the bottom in one piece. I made extensive use of my “xtreme OMG-I’m-gonna-die-if-I-slip” survival technique in the upper half of the chute… a.k.a. the toeside falling leaf. I hate having to do that in any chute, but I’ll take survival over style any day. Of course, the obvious question is why rap into something if you’re not going to be able to ride it clean? Well it was probably a bit of wishful thinking on my part, but it seemed like conditions would be OK. The snow in Powerhouse was pretty good, but it’s more N/NE facing so we expected it to be a bit more wintery. I downclimbed a bit into the top of 3rd Pillar, and it was decent too, certainly edgeable. But I keep forgetting that the top part of that chute is more NE facing too and more protected from the sun. The majority of Liberty faces due east and gets a bunch of sun in the spring… except the very top. Which is where we threw the rocks, and saw them disappear into the soft snow. If the snow in the main chute had been like that, it would have been awesome. It also seemed like the snowpack up high was still kinda transitioning to spring, so I thought there might be some lingering pockets of good snow. And there were, just not in the top half of the chute. Oh well. I’ll go back and get it in better conditions someday.

    But it was certainly a great learning experience to rap into it. Big thanks to dishwasher-dave, PJ, and certain other folks for showing me the ropes so to speak. A few random comments on the rap for anyone interested:

    – As BGnight said, we carried two 30m ropes, 8mm diameter (BD Rando). The rap ended up being pretty short in this case (one rope was just long enough), but that upper section could be tough to negotiate depending on snow conditions and how many people are rapping in. Better to have two ropes, you can tie them together if necessary.

    – A standard belay device doesn’t provide much friction on an 8mm rope for a rappel. I have one of those BD ones with the extra friction mode, and even with that it can be difficult to completely brake your descent. And lord help you if anything happens (rockfall, you slip, etc) and your brake hand slips. So I used an autoblock backup below the belay device, with the device extended about a foot away from the harness via a runner (so the autoblock couldn’t accidentally hit the belay device). This works great, is easy to set up, and let me easily control the descent (and stop for a granola bar midway and call TEX on the phone).

    – There was already an anchor in place up there, that seemed pretty solid. We backed it up though with two more slings though, just in case.

    – Transitioning was tricky, to say the least. I clipped in to my ice axe while transitioning, and set the board up toeside so I was already facing the direction I wanted to be for best edge control and self-arrest/self-belay (I could see how Flow-type bindings would be really useful in this case!). Also, on top of that there is definitely more pressure than usual to transition quickly, because you have this big cornice sitting right above you and no safe zone.

    Speaking of cornices, now that temps are warming up it’s cornice-fall season, as we found out in Powerhouse. So be on the lookout. We climbed to the left edge of the chute to stay out of the direct line of the cornices above, but you’re never completely out of the danger zone, especially in the middle at the narrower part of the chute. See BGnight, aren’t you glad I made you waste all that time over at Liberty, so that you weren’t in that chute when the cornice broke off? 😮

    #616170
    fullers2oh
    525 Posts

    nice TR guys. good too see you putting those skills to use Jim. now we just need to find you some better riding conditions. lots of good snow out there but its a bit tough to call with the weather conditions. i know how that goes with being “fixated” on an area, wonder why that is?

    bg nice shots from bridgeport the day before. looks like another epic day up that way.

    #616171
    rod9301
    34 Posts

    Great job, Jim. You’ve been hitting it this year. Haven’t made it to the East side yet, but intend to fix this tomorrow.

    Try the Omega Pacific belay device. http://www.omegapac.com/op_products_sbgii.html

    I used it to rap on 7mm ropes, and belay on 10.8 when rock climbing. Can’t say enough good things about it.

    #616172
    jimw
    1421 Posts

    Hey Rod, thanks for the info, that OP device looks pretty cool. Will have to check it out. I followed the same linkup you and Shelley did last year. That second chute was great! Just wish conditions in Liberty were better. If you’re on the eastside this weekend, you should stop by the splitfest at Convict Lake and say hi!

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