Thursday, July 27, 2017

Line of the Week: The Fist Couloir

Tryst Lake is a fairly popular ski touring spot. The steeper chutes down to the lake get a decent amount of skier compaction and are mostly sheltered from the wind and often provide the first chance of the season for backcountry skiers to get into steeper terrain similar to the ski hill. As long as someone hasn't wiggled excessively through the chokes (it is more common than you think), the snow is often quite good even days after a storm, definitely better than similar terrain 2hrs into a powder day at the ski hill.

But unless you've skinned past the lake between laps, you might not know about the last Tryst Lake Chute, the Fist Couloir!
Short and Sweet

The simplest way to tag the couloir is to simply center punch straight up, maybe until you reach the base of the cliff, or perhaps the snow coverage is deep enough that you can make it to the col. But in the spirit of #lineoftheweek and not #lineoftheweak , Here is different option:

Include the line as the 2nd descent of the "Spray Range Traverse" described in Summits and Icefields. After descending down into Commonwealth Creek, look for an avalanche path heading up to climber's right of the Fist (the Hillmap link below might come in handy, though keep in mind, I draw these years later while sitting at a desk). The snow in the avalanche path can be a spooky combination of sun crust, windslab and facets and creative routefinding might be required to top out. I believe we kicked steps up thin snow on top of scree.

Booting up after transitioning from skinning
Ascending rock and scree on the climber's right side

Access into the couloir might require a downclimb, rappel, or belay depending on coverage. So keep that in mind. Enjoy the descent of the couloir, making sure to take the time to brag about it to any skiers taking a break at the lake between runs. Make sure to leave your harness on for this section.
After sending a cornice down the line
Getting belayed into the line, while setting the bootpack for the follower to downclimb
Straight out of Chamonix, ready to ski!

Skiing the couloir!

Finish off the Spray Range Traverse with a neat descent into the Grizzly bowl, taking the time to admire the creativity of the Tent Ridge skiers.
Grizzly Bowl

Total Elevation: 1275m
Distance: 12km
Line Length: 100m
Top Elevation: 2525m

Hillmap Link

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