When the sun is shining and the steeps are stable . . . there is nothing like the Coast.
Was slacking over the weekend. Conditions were stable and perfect, and for some reason I didn’t get my myself out there. Conditions change so fast on the Coast. One day its crappy and dangerous, and the next day things get in conition. Mentally it is hard to always be ‘on call’, or to switch gears. One moment you’re baking muffins and sitting on your keister watching the Superbowl, and then 10hrs later your heading up-country to lay turns on some huge north face.
The forecast said that the good weather was going to hold till the end of tuesday. So I had 48hrs.
Headed up the logging road with my sled. I guess my mind never really switched gears from my couch surfing, because I had a few issues. Unloaded my sled, then it wouldn’t start, so I pulled the truck around and jump-started it (4-stroke), then rode up the road, realized the snow didn’t last around the corner, turned around, reloaded the sled, drove up higher, unloaded the sled, realized I left my gloves at the first parking area, then I couldn’t find my truck key for 15min, then finally went back, got my gloves, drove back up, and was on my way. Due to the delay, my visions of a mega link-up were slowly dashed. So I had to focus on a single objective.
Headed for the West Face of Atwell, to a ‘little’ section of the face that doesn’t get any attention. The couloirs here look small, only because the Siberian Express is right beside them. Turns out these lines are steep as hell. Steeper that their larger cousins the Siberian and Armenian.
From far away everything makes sense, but when your on the face things get confusing. So many couloirs and features that dead-end. I reached the bottom of my line and had two options. For some reason I chose the hard one thinking that it was the right one. Soon found myself on 60degree ice. Luckily there was a thin spine of snow that would hopefully let me escape on the way back down. Things mellowed once I gained the main couloir. Fairly fast travel got me to the top of the couloir, where things began to steepen considerably.
Snow became deep and sugary. Basically had to tunnel my way up, through ice and rime features. After gaining a steep arete, I burrowed my way around a pillar of vertical rime to gain the summit ridge. The ridge was too thin to stand on though. Took 15min to excavate a platform to put my skis on. Sporadic turns were mixed with some sideslipping. The first 200 feet was INTENSE! The main couloir was perfect stable boot deep powder. Negotiated the bottom crux without crying . The bottom few thousand feet were super fun, negotiated seracs and spines on 45degree slopes. Fairly certain it’s a first descent as well as a probable first ascent. Since the ‘ian’ names such as Siberian and Armenian exist on the same face, I called the line the Georgian. A beautiful western Asian country to the north of Armenia, with the badass Caucasus mountain range.