March 03, 2015

Skiing the X Couloir on Mt. Whymper

Starting the 2nd pitch of skiing over the cliff. Gery U Photo.

Last week, Gery U, Josh L and myself found ourselves in the Bow Valley during a rare mid-winter spell of good stability. Gery sent me a photo of the X-Couloir on Mt Whymper (that he took from Mt. Bell last season) and we decided to give it a go. A few years earlier, Steve H and I skied the obvious face in the middle of the picture on Mt Whymper (below) and passed under the entrance to the X-Couloir. I remembered that the line looked pretty mellow to begin with so I didn't think the day would be too taxing. Of course, going out with Gery and Josh, I should have known better. 

The line is easily accessed via the Chicadee Valley and is a pretty quick hit. We met at operation headquarters - aka The Bagel Co - at 7 am where Gery graciously offered to drive us in his hot new Audi that he swears belongs to his wife. Before we knew it, we were teleported to the trail head and scratching our way up valley. Ski crampons would have been nice for the approach but, since none of us actually own the appropriate crampons for the skis we were using, we didn't have the option.

At times like this, I wish I could take a mini, paid sabbatical, and ski as many lines as possible that are on the Rockies dream list. But looking at the forecast, it seems there won't be any fresh snow for the next few months so we should be able to pick up where we left off on the next time off. 

Gery's photo from Mt. Bell last season. The X-Couloir is the obvious X in the center right of the photo. Gery U Photo.

The real Powder Highway. Highway 93 South in soft, early morning light. 

And the magic green brick. You'd better have a really good excuse not to go ski something in the Rockies with this forecast. And no, the nordic center doesn't count.

Going up the initial part of the couloir. I was dogging it and really appreciated having two trail breaking oxen to take the bulk of the work. Gery U Photo.

Gery figuring out the route so that we didn't have to.

These were like Barney cornices - very friendly but still a little freaky.

Creeping along under the Barney cornice. Gery U Photo.

Gery U stoked out of his effin mind!

Going in to the initial slope. About 30 seconds after this photo was taken, Gery's sluff put out a sizable cloud that obscured the route and woke me out of my slumber.

Turning above the choke and the 30 meter cliff. We were psyched to be able to keep our skis on our feet for the entire descent. Gery U Photo.

Enjoying the less committing run out.

Heading home.


Josh L put together a cool, short video from the day. Thanks Josh!

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