NE Couloirs, Pacific Peak
Location: Ten Mile Range
Elevation Gain/Length: About 4000ft gain and over 10 miles RT. Took about 7.5 hrs RT. 5hr summit at 13,950ft.
TH: Spruce Creek
Group/Date: Greg Hansen and Gary Fondl on December 10th, 2014
I got a text from Gary at somepoint on Monday wanting to get out and after something "steep, high, and long". Hell yea I was down and we were feeling pretty good about the snowpack given all the recent high pressure too. I asked him if he had anything in mind and he mentioned the NE Couloirs on Pacific Peak. Sounded like a great idea to me and so I rallied up Greg Hansen to join in on the fun and a plan was set into motion. The weather was calling for a beautiful day and it sure as hell didn't disappoint!! Bluebird skies and no wind. T-shirt weather at 14k. Is it really December?
Greg and I picked up Gary in Frisco and headed off to the Spruce Creek TH. On trail by 8am the going was pretty easy up the road and old skin-tracks towards Continental Falls. From there we broke trail heading up bench by bench until we found ourselves at the base of our climb.
We assessed our plan as we approached the couloirs. The first thing we noticed was a natural slide on far lookers left below the shade in the above photo. After some discussion we came to the conclusion that it looked over 48hrs old but we still remained a bit cautious. Plan was to skin to the base and check out the snow and reassess. What we found was great. Nice and consolidated perfectly bootable snow! We skinned up as far as we could until a quick transition and boot up the couloir. Unbelievable to be booting up a 40 degree couloir in December!
Above the couloirs we found ourselves on a flat bench below the summit containing the Pacific Tarn. Americas highest lake at 13,500ft high! We decided to push on to summit with it being such a beautiful day and we would be able to get some bonus skiing on a nice pitch of snow above the tarn.
5 hours later from leaving the TH we found ourselves 50 feet short of crowded on a beautiful, bluebird, windless summit! What a day!! We hung out up there and soaked in the views for 30-45 minutes before deciding to head on and ski. Again, this is December?
Time to ski!!!
A great pitch with soft snow led us on top of the tarn. From there we walked across the tundra until we found ourselves on top of our intended couloir. Gary dropped first followed by myself and then Greg. Smiles for days!!!
Pure stoke! What a day! From the bottom of the couloirs it was a quick out, taking only about an hour. On our exit we were able to ski a couple of more "bonus pitches". Steeps in December......
Not much further down from there we were able to catch the road from the summer TH and quickly get back to the truck. 7.5hrs, 4000ft, and 10.5 miles later we were all feeling pretty damn good about the day! December what?