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Home Forums TR Archive Colorado TR – Potosi Peak, North Couloir 5/2/09

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    Potosi Peak via North Couloir
    Yankee Boy Basin to Weehawken Creek
    7 Miles 3,800′ up, 6,000′ down

    Another weekend, this time a three dayer had me thinking again of the San Juans and another attempt to go for Potosi’s North Couloir. This time it was a success! Bones provided some helpful eagerness for the line too after I got him hooked on it a few weeks ago. After some less than productive days at work and restless nights, friday rolled around and the wife and I packed up the camper and made the nice drive down to Yankee Boy Basin. The drive was uneventful until upper Yankee Boy, where snow levels forced a retreat and tight turn around with the camper. Smoked the brakes a bit on the return to the campground after the bridge and below Weehawken Creek TH. Up a short steep road brought us to a nice spot.

    The Fam

    Weather forecast was not ideal with rain or snow a certainty for Saturday. I knew with the dust layer the snow would be gone soon though, so now or never (this year at least). I awoke around 5 and made some breakfast from the comforts of “home”. Bones met me at the camground and we drove up to the end of the road plowing. (The wife was hanging out in camp today.)

    “Call Mr. Plow, that’s my name, that name again is Mr. Plow!”

    As you can see the snowpack around here is pretty toasted. As it turns out though the bad weather forecast ended up saving the day with around 6 inches of fresh to cover up most of the dirt. We left the truck at 7am and made the easy climb up to the Teakettle/Potosi Saddle 2 hours later. Conditions on this route were about as far from skiable as Id like to see. Chicken heads and gravel. We made the call then that Weehawken would be our descent route, returning back to my camp and truck about a 1/2 mile below the TH.

    look at those chickens!

    Bones reaches the saddle

    Snow on the north side looked much more manageable, and it was falling at a steady rate at this point. We descended for a few hundred feet before traversing around to the base of the couloir. Or was it? Bad visibility and numerous couliors and rock outcroppings had us second guessing for quite awhile during the ascent. We ended up on the right track thankfully. The large cliffs on our left were correctly identified as the left hand border of the couloir.

    The bootpack was challenging as Bones and I sunk in to the tops of our boots with each step. We were grateful for the the new snow though, and kept plugging along. The setting of the couloir was grand, with towering rock formations to either side. We watched small spindrifts flow off Potosi’s North Face. It took us about 2 hours to climb the couloir itself, and we stayed on snow until the summit, reached around 12:00. Snow was pretty steady and the storm nixed any chances of the epic views I was hoping for. I tried to assure Bones that it was indeed the Gnar. We stayed long enough to sign the register and headed down, skiing pow right off the summit. I knew we were in for a treat after the first few turns, getting in some May powder down an otherwise rubble pile. The snow was pretty stable in the upper 100 feet of the couloir. Lower down we did a little sluff management by making a few turns and pulling off to the side. They were relatively small and didnt cause concern.

    The new snow really made the descent, even if it did take away our views. Turns down on the apron were a bit slower as we felt our way down, not seeing much difference up or down. Here is what google suggests for bluebird:

    Ascent to Teakettle saddle

    The Line

    The Descent

    The exit through Weehawken creek was the unknown. It had kept me up at night. Towering canyon walls and avy paths. It was beautiful. The first couple hours were a delight as we snaked our way down valley. Spying lines only for the comitted. The second two hours were something else, trying to stay on trail and not get sucked down into certain trouble in the creek drainage. We kept our eyes sharp for trail markers and cut trees. We still managed to loose it several times and bushwhack. 4.5 wet hours from the summit we made it down to camp, after a quick “conversation” with a complete loonie in an old BMW with florida plates. ( get some help dude! )

    I asked Bones if this was what Alaska was like.


    Nice work boys, CO representing!! Love the maps, gives great perspective. :drool:

    bones get broke

    Nice write up HFT. Epic, 1st class adventure. I can’t wait ’till next year.

    Awesome 360 deg. views.

    Documentation of the first rainbow Billabong hat splitboot descent of Weehawken drainage.


    Awesome stuff boyz! :thatrocks:

    ps. How do you get google earth to show the terrain in the winter, I just started using it and it seems that it only shows summer terrain.

    bones get broke

    bump for the additional photos.


    Great pics bones!

    BCR, i think its totally random. The winter/summer lines are right next to each other in some places. I definitely prefer the winter view! Picking out a dirt couloir is always tricky.


    hft, looks really sweet. i think you guys should rename that to the happy days couloir đŸ˜€


    Good one men. Was a bit dissapointed that you didnt score more chicken heads, but I can see where that powdered snow could be fun



    Nice work! Is that the couloir that kinda looks like a ‘cross’ in the book Colorado Snow Climbs? I’m quite impressed.

    Conditions look similar to what we had in the Elks, although I thought our red dust layer was bad, looks like yours is even worse, but just like us that snow on Saturday covered it all up with fluffy powder.


    What a difference a little snow up top can make! This is a fine trip report. Good words, LOTS of pictures and the (IMO) necessary Earth “topo” imagery with ascent and descent info. Thanks! I started reading this TR because it was titled Potosi Peak (which we have one of here in SW Montana. Alas it is a diff. Potosi but I’m glad I read anyway.


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