Posted by: wasatchprotocol | May 23, 2010

2010.05.23 – Upper Pole Couloir, Cascade Peak

Last week I saw some great photos at Marauders Mountain Album from a recent trip up the Upper Pole Couloir on Cascade Peak.  It has some steep sections (45 degrees), it’s lined by huge rock walls, and it’s a mountain I’ve never been too, so that got me easily motivated.  I spent the last few days of the work week trying to rope someone into coming along with me.  Due to some of my friends being out of town or super busy and the weather being totally unpredictable, the outlook was bleak on Friday.  But luckily Steve ended up being up for it, and we drove down to Happy Valley on Sunday morning.

Here’s a photo of the couloir from down below:

The middle to upper sections of Upper Pole Couloir. The lower half is hidden from view.

After a short hike/bushwack, we were in the lower gully that leads into the couloir.  Since the lower sections aren’t too steep we skinned.

Steve just above the lower choke of the couloir.

At this point, the mountain started bowling.  Rocks ranging from penny-sized to cantaloupe-sized came hurtling down the couloir every now and then.  Here at the choke, the cantaloupe-sized one narrowly missed Steve who was above the choke, hit the left wall of the choke, and bounced towards me as I was coming through the choke.  Luckily it sailed by harmlessly, but it gave us a scare.  Throughout the rest of the ascent we kept our eyes and ears open and mostly only had to dodge smaller rocks.

Booting sucks, so we skinned as long as possible.

Eventually, it got steeper and steeper, and the snow was not the best for skinning (little bit of fresh on a hard layer below), so we switched to booting.

Steve is either taking in the scenery, or watching for falling rocks.

Looking back down from the widest section of the couloir. Provo and Utah Lake down below.

At this point it was clear that the snow was starting to warm up.  We had originally tossed around the idea of summiting Cascade Peak if it stayed cool, but with the sun out and starting to cook, we didn’t want to be in the couloir too late.  So we decided we’d pushed on to the top of the couloir, forget about the summit, make our descent.

Steve took a photo of me in the upper part of the couloir.

At the top of the couloir we switched over to ski mode for the descent.  I almost lost one ski back down the slope, but made a great save…

At the top of the couloir, looking down.

The upper part of the couloir was kind of creamy consolidated, but mostly dry snow.  Wasn’t too bad.

Steve up high.

Steve.

Just keep going down...

Steve, mid couloir.

More skiing.

Steep rock wall + snow = chuting.

Down low Steve started goofing off.

Steve is going to ski with skis on each side of that rock.

Ooops.

And then we were back to where we left our shoes.  Not a bad May 23rd 2500 feet of vert.

And what late spring ski tour would be complete without a nice little bushwack?

You can’t easily see the line from any of the access points.  Maybe that’s why it’s so obscure.

It's up there.

Ahh, there it is.

Not a bad morning’s work.  What’s next?

Picasa album here.

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