02 February, 2010

Joffre Central Couloir - Re-Match



After last weeks encounter with Joffre's Central Couloir, putting a large amount of time into it, and having it not go kept me thinking about it all week.  We had to make it happen, and with such stable conditions, there was no way we weren't going to go for it.  So we met up really early Monday morning for an alpine start.  We took the same route as previous, heading up the Southeast Face Route, to the top of the Couloir.  This time the climb was a bit more difficult, as the faceted snow just above the rock slabs, shed every time it was weighted.  The rock was hidden under the snow just enough to surprise you every so often.  (Photo Left:  Paul Cordy digging out a platform to put his skis on)

With some short excavating of our tunnel from the week previous we had our snow bollard dug out, and were rapping in to the Central Couloir.  The 60m rope we brought this time, allowed us to skip the insane down climb and to get our skis on the 55 degree slope.  Skiing the first 120m on belay, as the snow was less the optimal, we reached the first rappel.  Skiing down to it was an interesting 60 degree gully that cliffed out over a 40m cliff or so.
(Photo Above Left:  Paul Cordy skiing the upper pitch.  Right:  Alex Wigley building a rappel anchor)
Digging an anchor out, and rapping down over the big cliff, we found our rope was a hair short, but with some traversing only 3m over we found our way onto the main section of the Couloir.  Rappelling just a few feet over would require a 70m rope or leaving your rope behind.  If one was climb the couloir to ski it, this would be a near impossible climb in boots, as it is vertical granite, covered in snow.  Either way going down, it was a great pitch to ski.  Although we were stoked to be through the main crux we continued down.
(Photo Left:  Paul Cordy on the second rappel)
The rest of the Couloir was fairly straightforward, with a few rockbands that held some snow, making things a bit more interesting.  However, although straightforward, this was no still a no fall zone.  (Photo Right:  Paul Cordy building a deadman)  We continued skiing down, and squeezed through the 2.2m wide choke at the bottom out into the lower glacier.  Stoked to be done we continued skiing through the icefall, for a long powder run all the way to the valley.  A great experience, and unbelievably long Couloir.

Please Note:  If you would like to try this couloir, do so with only with some alpine climbing, and anchor building, skills.  This couloir, if skied from the very top, is extremely technical, not only in skiing ability, but rope skills.  Not only that, even after skiing the line, you have to maneuver through a glacier, much of which is crevassed and poorly bridged.  The line can be climbed from the bottom, but will start at a lower position, and will not require a 30m rappel.
(Photo Below:  Paul Cordy skiing through the Icefall afterwards)
Photos by:  Alex Wigley & Paul Cordy

15 comments:

  1. I've climbed it one winter when there was no snow...it's full value if you're there on skis. way to go!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks man, love how technical it was!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nicely done boy's !! Way to get at it !!
    Chris Christie

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice work boys. Way to go back for a second go to get er done.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Niiiceee work Alex! I will have to take a look closer look at it one day, but this thing seems quite freakin...steep

    I peaked over the top of it last year but couldn't see much due to a big cornice. Then just skied its lamer brother going down the south-west face.

    ReplyDelete
  6. We skied the Aussie Couloir (SW) last week, on our exit, super nice line as well. Good luck this weekend at Sunshine 5000, wish I could make it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey Alex, sounded like an interesting day. You should ski the thing when it is actually filled with snow (you crazy kid!!!). Then you can leave those pesky ropes at home. Have you heard the story of the snowboarder who was standing on the top cornice when it broke, and he self-arrested just before the top cliff band . . . insane!

    trevor

    ReplyDelete
  8. Beautiful commitment. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The Couloir is filled in well enough. Just keeps things rowdy!

    ReplyDelete
  10. super-stoked on your commitment alex. But the couloir does get filled in. When I skied it in 2001 mid-winter, we made turns down the whole thing, even through the bottle-neck (although very scary). From what I've heard though, most parties have to at least side-slip or rappel the tight sections.

    But we climbed it and didn't top out . . . so I'm a little jealous of you guys dropping in from the top.

    trevor

    ReplyDelete
  11. Got er dunn! That feeling of completion, or closure, or whatever the hell it's called. Aahhhhhh. I'm sittin on me arse over here in nrth euroland readin of all the boyzz missioning back home in bc. BUT, with a fresh 60-110 the last couple dayz and 20mm prec forcast (1m+) for the comming few, I'm hopin its my turn. Cheerz for the stoke.
    carver

    ReplyDelete
  12. Nice post.

    Did you ski that thing in your Dy.N.A.s???

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for the post Carver! There's always training for big days which keeps the stoke going too! Ski Fast.

    Kellie,
    Yes. Ski everything on the Dy.N.A's now. Such a great boot, how couldn't I!

    ReplyDelete