Skiing in the park, no two stroke help, whaaa?? Been wanting this one since I started skiing at the hill, its S-shaped remnant glacier strikingly stark in the summer.
Ian and I got up extra early and went up Hoodoo Creek, continuing on past the end of the trail on worn rock and tangles of driftwood. The snow took quite some time to start appearing underfoot, is it summer skiing already? Once we got to the top of the valley, the line looked like crap, a cliff guarding the bottom, a lower unskiable choke through proud choss, then the rest of the line looked like just slalom thru more choss, with maybe a choke higher up. Ian decided he wasn’t feeling it, so I continued up on my own. It couldn’t be that bad..?
I skinned around the lower cliff on avy debris and crust-over-isothermal. I stashed some things at the base of the main fan and started up toward the first difficulty, the chutes that penetrated the second cliffs. I decided to go left, as the lookers right chute looked like a relatively long mixed-ice climb to do without protection. I did the lower part of the cliff in a few big moves, then found a rib to traverse to dispatch the upper part. All that’s left now is 1100m of bootpacking, easy.. not.
I went up on just crampons for a while, finding nice, wide sections that led the right way. The snow got progressively less solar effected (from previous days), until it got deep enough to warrant plates. There were ice crystals blowing off the cliffs above, sometimes forming into small sluffs that wet me out as the day wore on. As things got steeper and I more worn-out, I started counting steps to motivate myself, which became harder as I got onto the glacier and overhead hazards went to nil, one less reason to move fast. Every time I stopped, I couldn’t help but look back to Mt Vaux’s ridiculous south face, peppered with choss and plastered with snow where there shouldn’t be. Could be a really sweet line for the right kind of nutbar.
On the final approach to the top, things got steep and snow got thin on the glacier, I started needing to use my pick. I was glad to have steel crampons though, there really is no substitute. I was surprised to see no cornice looming over the top part, and once I topped out, there was none on the south side either. Views were stunning down the chain of mountains south from Chancellor, it really hasn’t been a bad year for snow up high.
Since I was given a nice non-corniced ridge to work with, I started chopping the snow down to a nice flat pad of snow ontop of two ridiculous exposures so I could put my skis on. Easing in to the line, I took it easy until I knew I had enough snow to ski on. The fall line off the top chute takes you over bad things. Before long, I was flashing turns on great snow, I was amazed at how great the skiing was compared to what was advertised from the bottom. Eventually, snow got bad and I had to make my way thru the bottom chokes. The top one I found another route which went clean with a little traverse-straightline thing into the chute.
The lower hadn’t caught much sun and was hard as sin, so I abandoned my hope of pointing the 5 feet of rock and ice onto the avyed-out fan. I put crampons on to downclimb, thinking it was so short I didn’t need to bother with the full attachment. On the first step I watched in disappointment as my left crampon bounced down the chimney. I was able to reach behind and adze foot steps for the couple really bad steps, and made it down without much sketchiness. Lesson learned. Then the final ski down to Ian and back to the car.