Trip Report: Mid-Winter Couloir Skiing

Michael left his home turf in the Wasatch last weekend to join Sawtooth Mountain Guides for a couple days of ski mountaineering. A month long dry spell left the Sawtooths with a stable snowpack but mixed ski conditions. Perhaps bored by all that monotonous Wasatch powder, Michael says he’ll take the steeps over perfect snow any day.

To warm up and get a feel for snow conditions, our first day was in the Elevator Shaft – a classic but relatively easy chute in the southern end of the range. We were surprised by decent conditions and can honestly say we didn’t have a bad turn.

Deciding to ramp it up on day two, we headed for the ultra-classic North Couloir on McGown Peak. Conditions were mixed to say the least, and booting up the rock-hard apron we were skeptical that the couloir was going to be safe and edgeable. Fortunately the snow softened as we climbed, but still remained variable and a little funky. Finding a foot or two of rotten snow over steep rock near the top, we wisely chose to begin our descent from 50 feet below the top. Turns were intimidating in the steep top section, and although the snow was edgeable, the variable texture and fall potential kept us honest.

We skied out the lower meadows with the sun setting over our completed objective, arriving at the trailhead tired, safe, and happy! Thanks Michael!