| Mt. Hope via Hopeful Couloir
Packed in via the Willis Gulch TH, Little Willis Gulch trail on Saturday, 16 May. Trail was dry and hot until past the Big/Little Willis trail junction. Knee- to hip-high drifts of soft, wet, sugar snow covered the trail at times beginning around 10,600ft (around the switchbacks in the trail) and increased in frequency and annoyingness to the lake at 11,800. The final 500-700 ft is a real slog.
The beginning of the snow drifts:
Camp at the lake at 11,800:
Woke at 4:45am and climbing by 5:15am. The snow above the lake was nice and solid. We donned crampons above the rock bands and began our ascent of the couloir, which had great snow in it. We could see the remnants of the avy field referenced by a previous 14ers trip report, and the snow here seemed well consolidated. There wasn't much of a cornice above Hopeful.
Me and my ice axe at sunrise:
hobo13 on the ascent in the sunrise glow:
Yours truly in the previously mentioned avy debris field:
This was my first snow climb of this level of difficulty (rated "moderate" in most places I've seen) so I had a few moments of panic at the steepness. My wonderfully patient fiance helped me readjust my crampons and get into a rhythm with my ice axe technique to feel more comfortable. We decided to exit the main couloir above the first rock band and continue up the couloir just to the climber's left (NE), which seemed a bit less steep. By the time we gained the ridge at 8:30am, the snow was softening quite a bit.
hobo13 on the ridge (with Belford and Oxford behind? Maybe?):
We then navigated a couple of talus blocks to gain Hope's summit. The summit block is a surprisingly gentle walk up after all it took to get there! There is still a HUGE cornice hanging off of the main summit snow pack, with some awesomely scary icicles hanging down off of it.
Cornices underneath summit pack:
Yours truly on summit with Elbert:
We descended to Hope Pass, assessing each couloir for glissade-ability. Each one seemed a little too steep with not enough run out and a little too hard-packed snow for my (overdeveloped?) sense of safety. We got to the Pass at the saddle, and the snow field from there was great for a glissade, which we took all the way down to just above the lake. We then packed up camp and packed out.
We were thinking of bagging Quail next door, but we had an appointment back in town we needed to be back for, and had run out of time. It gives us a great excuse to come back to this beautiful, pristine, quiet area!
View of the couloir:
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):