Mount Shuksan, NW Couloir
A couple buds and I had a fabulous lap down the "Northwest Ramp, as accessed by the NW Couloir via Upper Hanging Glacier" on the Shuk last week. Transit was rapid, with a couple preset skintracks up the WS (side note: whoever set the skintrack hard climber's left right up the main headwall....Perhaps reevaluate your objective hazards and make better decisions in years to come).
I think we were 3:45 car to top of WS. Upper Hanging Glacier is ultra fat right now with zero crevasse issues. This detail will change in the coming weeks.
Watch those cornices right now...They are pushing 30+ feet overhanging right now.
Give that serac a nice big margin of error. A moderately size icefall came down and made a debris pile within 200-300 feet and blasted us with ice pellets and mist. We skinned right past a couple large house-massed pieces of glacier before jetting in the opposite direction past the corner. Back to my note about that climber's left skintrack that went waay too close to that icefall zone.....You guys...Seriously?
Descent was incredible. This was my second lap on this run and it wasn't 100% hero pow, but super chalky / velvet snow. I had a vision of fully "freeriding" this thing right off the top, but the snow conditions definitely kept us honest in the upper sections of the descent.
The crux traverse this year is in an unusually thin / bad state for some reason. I ran into some major white ice problems as I crossed. I'm regular footed, so I crossed on my toe edge going switch with 2 ice tools. Problem is that you're on a 50 degree slope over a 100 ft cliff above a 3,000 ft. ramp, and you're on rock slabs with 6" sugar shitfuck garbage snow, with a lens of death ice on top of that. My edges would not penetrate for purchase, and when I swung an ice tool it would shatter that ice lens and then bounce off the rock underneath. It was like my ice tools were saying "Nice try, but fuck you, SUCKER!"
I kind of had to do a "4 point fiction hold" on my snowboard, like I was "slab-scootching". Honesty I turned off my helmet cam in case something bad were to happen that mom wouldn't want to see. The worst part is only about 12 feet in length, but be damn careful there. In retrospect cramponing across would have felt safer, but then you're forced with the challenge of transitioning into shred mode on a 50-55 degree wall....And my worst nightmare in life is dropping my splitboard on top of Shuksan. Hard to say what the best strategy would have been actually...
Regardless, the radical thing about this line is that you feel like an astronaut up there. Being on your board that high in the air is THE SICKEST feeling ever. None of us died on the traverse, and when it came time to ride we descended over 3,000 vertical in ~120 seconds. Robot says we hit 54-55mph riding down the 2 walls of the route. Turns out that Alpine Freeride Dreams do occasionally snap into reality.
Best part of riding big lines in #ULTRASEHKSNOW is the uncontrollable giggling that ensues at the bottom. Oh, and also, Parking Lot Coronas after ultra-triumphant success are the fucking BEST.
Its strange....These radical descents always leave me feeling sort of depressed for about a week after. Kinda similar to tripping on Molly all weekend, I think they zap your brain's fun chemicals for a while. Ski / shred mountaineering really is the best form of partying.
Photos definitely not in order of the day's timeline...