Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Radio Beacon - June 2, 2007

Who: Dave, Lacy, Oliver
We went up to the Indian Peak Wilderness for some more spring skiing turns.
We drove up the bumpy Rollins Pass road and got stopped about 2 miles short of Yankee Doodle Lake due to snow drifts. So we had to hike a little longer than originally expected.

We hiked around the cirque and started to look for a good line.

It was dark and stormy: (Click to enlarge)

When we hiked around the cirque we noticed two more hikers in front of us. Where did they suddenly come from?
Dave had a line in mind he has done quite a few years back.
This year it looked prime, there was very good coverage in there and see.... there were tracks coming out of this steep couloir. The guys must have climbed up this route.
The tracks indicated that the snow was already quite soft, but that's actually not such a bad thing on a steep line. It provides you some better grip.
After poundering if we should give this extremely steep line a go (top is 60degrees + and the whole couloir is a sustained 55 degrees) for quite a while, we decided to try it.

In the meantime the other two backcountry skiers/boarders went down the Radio Beacon east face and positioned them so that they could see our descent very well.

Dave went first and reported after a few turns that the top layer is sliding, but nothing looked too dangerous.

The steep couloir (note Dave at the bottom, Oliver dropping in):
Picture taken by Adam

I went next. After sliding sideways into the top part I could do several good jump turns. Wet sluff was sliding, but I was able to easily avoid it with pulling to the side.
I am not exactly sure what happen, but probably I got a little too confident after the top half and started linking many turns together instead of stopping on the side to let the sluff run by. So suddenly there was lots of sluff moving around me and it wiped me out from behind. I got swept into the huge runnel that was on the skiers right side of the couli and it was game over. I managed to stay somewhat in control with my board below me, but I was going pretty fast. Two times I could almost get out of the runnel, but got pushed back again. So I enjoyed a nice slide down a 55 degree chute on my butt.

The good Oliver:

The bad Oliver:

The scaring off the spectators Oliver:

Lacy does it better:

Some nice jumpturns:

Dave and Lacy with the line in the background:

Lacy and Oliver:

A close-up of the couloir:

Lacy looking back a last time:

So in hindsight a few more things to say about this adventure:
Definitely the steepest line I rode so far in my life. The couloir is a sustained 55 degrees with a rollover on top of 60+ degrees. In some places at the top, the couloir was probably only one and a half board width wide. Needless to say it’s a pretty tough line to ride in a snowboard.

Dave has done it before in 1997. Back then it had less snow in it. He said that was one of the hairiest lines he skied in his life. So we knew it was going to be a tough one.

I still would do the line again with the same conditions. However I would pay a lot better attention to the sluff management.
I am still mad at myself that I messed it up. But I might just have to go back there and try it again to ride it properly.

Adam's (luca_brasi) TR on splitboard.com:

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