Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Triangle Couloir

Finally, after eyeing the Triangle for three years, Jason and I were able to see it for ourselves.  Well, anyone can see if from the road up Little Cottonwood Canyon, but we really got to see it, with eyes wide open.

The Triangle from the road

Busy with meetings all morning, we sorted through gear and ate lunch on the way to the Y pull out.  There, we sorted some more gear, loaded up unusually heavy packs, and skinned right to the base of the couloir.  The snow was soft and seemed stable.  This was going to be good.

I haven't really climbed anything of note for a few years (not that I was a noteworthy climber before, but I climbed a lot).  Taking the first lead felt awkward but was still strangely familiar.  Luckily, this pitch was just a couple easy ice bulges which I dispatched comfortably by over gripping my tools and developing wooden hands.

I brought Jason up for what appeared to be another easy short pitch.  Appearances are deceiving though as he grunted up a short slot with smooth granite to his left, thin ice underneath, a couple feet of clearance overhead, and a some miserable skis and poles on his back.  It was like fighting a haul bag, but worse.

My turn wasn't much prettier as I humped my way through this section to join him at the belay.  Now above the technical difficulties, I imposed a deadline to turn our circus around.  I had to pick up my one-year-old son and was feeling guiltier by the minute.  Fortunately, Jason and I work well together and as he coiled ropes, I took off post holing up the smooth knee deep powder above.  He caught me after a few hundred vertical feet, where it makes sense to start skinning.  From there we each took a couple pulls out front, racing the clock instead of each other.

Pulling up on the ridge and feeling the sun on our faces we had beaten the turn around time by 4 minutes.  HA!  It was now time to ski what Chris Cawley refers to as, "The Goods".  Undisturbed other than our uptrack, the snow was priceless.  I would have loved to ski with wild abandon but the thought of that one hundred meter cliff just wouldn't leave the forefront of my mind.  Damn.

I noodled.

Back at the rappel station, we again worked together to ready the ropes and then I tested the anchor by backing over the ice flow while Jason watched to see if the scraggly tree would hold.  I'm a couple pounds lighter this year so everything went well.  Jason followed and after one more double rope rappel, we were clicking in to our Maestros and enjoying the feeling of sneaking in another brilliant adventure just minutes from a million people.

It only looks like it's a dead end (photo by JD)

Cameras.  Well mine did.  It's not as steep as it looks.

Jason starting up pitch two

Throw your triangles up

JD in the upper chute


JD rapping

AD rapping (photo by JD)

Jason's first turn of the lower chute

Andy's first turn of the lower chute (photo by JD)

The great snow picked up where it left off above

More JD

 Gear list:
Scarpa Alien 1.0 boots
Ski Trab Maestro skis and Race helmet
Outdoor Research Cirque pants and Radiant Hybrid Hoody
CAMP X3 600 pack
Petzl Dart crampons
Grivel Quantum Tech tools

...and a bunch of other extra heavy stuff


  1. Nice work! Adam, Billy, Colby and I were wondering who that was up there. We should have know by how fast you guys moved above the crux. Billy and I loved that "scraggly tree" too.