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Woods Creek Couloir via Herman Gulch

4/21/24
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Posted by skistache on 4/22/24 9:52am

Back in the fall, I went for a day hike with a buddy up through Herman Gulch off of i70. After connecting with the CDT for a short stretch, a steep, rocky couloir caught my eye. 

"I bet that's totally skiiable!" I said

My buddy was immediately dubious to which I replied "anything is skiiable with enough snow". 

Sure enough, when I went home that very line was well marked with several trip reports, and now we have enough snow, so I got a bright early start at 11AM. The trail into Herman Gulch is well-travelled and simple, the biggest struggle being cold dry snow in the shade globbing onto my skins that were instantly soaked from the snow rapidly consolidating in bright sunlight. Herman Gulch is an incredibly cool zone- just tons of approachable lines from all aspects, and a short skin into the valley. The skin up to the entrance of the Woods Creek Couloir entrance was a straightforward ridge climb, and snowmobile tracks higher on the ridge sped up the climb. 

The Couloir itself is well protected from sun, so the surface inside was dry snow consolidated by wind into that typical punchy surface found in the Rockies. Near the entrance, a large wind drift sat menacingly, which I gave a wide berth. Sitting in the backseat on the punchy surface, the descent was "almost good"- a sort of typical turn-turn-stop to manage slough and let the legs rest. I stopped right before the apron on a ledge, snapped some pictures up and down, then had to gun the last bit and blast out the fan traversing back to the ridgeline. 

For my exit, I traversed the ridgeline back down the the freeway to the first major open bowl. Now this was the best skiing of the day- perfect corn, smooth, fast, just glorious skiing. A little skating a pole pushing on the skintrack, and I was back to the car in no time. I do miss the PNW gray skies, moisture, and oxygen, but there's something to be said for the views and sunshine in Colorado. 

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skistache
2024-04-22 16:52:33