Million Dollar Wedgie

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Million Dollar Wedgie

Postby Alex » Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:35 am

I wanted something steep and Maddy wanted something to get her back into steeps, so we decided on a reasonably easy objective (access, probability of success) in the Million Dollar couloir on Cayoosh. It actually doesn't look like much in the only picture I had taken of it, so we figured it should be a casual affair.

We met up with a few new friends so that one guy could try out the Meidjo binding to see if he liked it. This would also be my first steep day on the Meidjo after about 10-12 days on it so far this year.

Maddy en route to the summit of Cayoosh

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It was a busy day on Cayoosh. We started late, but managed to bypass a lot of the crowds by setting our own track up through the trees near the bottle neck, but this meant that there was a train of people following us. After a quick summit hang out we skied back down the shoulder and skied some moderately steep turns through breakable crust. After that I switched back to my skis and Mike, Stu, and David went their own way:

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We watched them poke around on the glacier for a bit as we walked along the ridge that goes towards Million Dollar Couloir, and I attempted to point at the direction they should go using my ski, but they did not see any of my flailing. It still required crossing multiple sags, but it seemed safe enough. They had wanted to ski the slightly curved south facing couloir on the right of the photo.

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Anyway, some variable snow led to some beautiful preserved powder on the ridge above the couloir. There was a nice place to stand at the top and scope out the rest. It had been skied by several parties before us and was looking quite a bit steeper than I would have thought. It was probably ever so slightly over 50 degrees for the first 50m of vertical and the turns were chalky and firm, but rather enjoyable and challenging. It didn't seem like the right place for Maddy to "get back into" steep skiing, so I forced her to side step the majority of the first narrow part. The snow was sort of variable and tried to grab me and kick me a few times.

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The angle relented slightly and the couloir widened. There was still grabby snow on the sides, but the center was reasonable enough for Maddy to do some cautious turns in. Fun 45+ degree turns ensued.

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We skied powder down the valley where some dense shrubbery awaited our arrival. We watched for Stu, Mike, and David but they never appeared near their objective, so we hoped that they had followed us and had not fallen into a crevasse.

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Part II - Wedgemount switch up

The following day we set off early with ambitious plans to ski both Parkhurst and Rethel Couloir. There's an IPP that's half way through construction on Wedgemount Creek. An access road ascends to 1240m where the intake is. Not knowing what the creek was like at that point we opted to take the summer trail on the way up and inspect the creek on the way down. The summer trail was reasonably fast, but near 1200m we heard some sleds. A couple guys had gotten a ride up with their friends and were dropped off at the intake and passed us as we were snacking on the trail.
As we approached the hut the winds started howling. The inversion of the last several days was getting blown out by an approaching front and the gusts were in the 80 kph range. Parkhurst looked boney and we observed lots of blowing snow off the peaks and it looked like Rethel was cold, windy, and getting loaded at the top, so after a quick break at the hut we opted for a sunnier looking option by ascending up the Wedgemount Glacier to the Wedge - Weart "col".

Parkhurst:

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The Wedgemount Glacier was incredibly saggy in a few places. We had to make a wide turn around some long reaching slots and reached the sunny col with sweeping vistas across the Wedge Glacier towards Oasis and Neal. We then turned around and I think all 3 of us had different intentions of what line we wanted to ski. We all thought we were agreeing, but instead we dropped in way too high and were rewarded with moderately steep turns of around 40 degrees down the bottom of the Wedgemount Glacier.

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The snow quality varied between breakable crust, windboard, and windslab. The wind slab broke off in small chunks and would go hurtling down the route. High spatial variability. We ended up skiing through the rocks on the ridge that are just below the sun / shadow line and then skied near plumb from there.

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On our way out we saw several people ski out the bottom of Rethel. Apparently it was quite firm, but the turns we saw on the apron were enough to create envy. Another time. That road is going to get used a lot by me this year.
Fun weekend!
Want more.
Alex
 

Re: Million Dollar Wedgie

Postby skykilo » Tue Jan 05, 2016 6:02 pm

Stupid wind interfering with the alpine goodies. Looks like lots of good exercise and scenery though.

What are these Meidjo bindings? Are they sufficiently sketchy for you?
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skykilo
olikyks
 
from Santa Fe

Re: Million Dollar Wedgie

Postby Alex » Wed Jan 06, 2016 9:47 am

Yes Yes. Sketchy enough to keep it exciting.
I've been abusing them thoroughly this time though. And I don't think I'd take them down Joffre couloir just yet. I still have my duckbills for that. But it's always tempting when the whole set up is 4 pounds lighter...

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Alex
 

Re: Million Dollar Wedgie

Postby skykilo » Fri Jan 08, 2016 12:17 pm

Dyna-tele, yes indeed, astonishing new heights of sketchiness! Bravo.

I'm glad somebody's still got the game face. Here I am sitting at home next to a heater at noon on my day off work, trying to get motivated to go for a tour when we've had 17" of new snow in the past two days.
User avatar
skykilo
olikyks
 
from Santa Fe

Re: Million Dollar Wedgie

Postby Alex » Fri Jan 08, 2016 4:39 pm

It'll come back. The sickness is incubating. Isn't that sort of how malaria works (more invasion followd by cell rupture cycle)? But instead of days we're talking years for the cycle. I feel as though mine is increasing after a couple years off. Bring on the sickness!
Alex
 

Re: Million Dollar Wedgie

Postby skykilo » Fri Jan 08, 2016 6:51 pm

Finally got motivated, went for a tour, snow was epic, then it started snowing again at the parking lot. I was going to get Alisson from work and I had given myself 40 minutes (it's about 18 miles and the roads were good). But it started pounding snow and the red snake grew strong. Then town had seen 2" and the roads were like an ice rink! Took 90 minutes to get down the mountain and through town.

But we're getting close to 100" base at little old Ski Santa Fe 16 miles from mi casa! So that's cool.
User avatar
skykilo
olikyks
 
from Santa Fe


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