Mt. Aetna  
Condition Updates  
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2021-04-11, By: supranihilest
Info: The Grand is not long for this world and felt more like the Dollar Store couloir. The first few tenths of a mile from the trailhead are dry, then there's continuous snow to the Grand's apron. The apron is full of exposed rock and willows, then until the last thousand or so feet there's large patches of exposed and unstable scree and talus. The steep upper portion of the couloir has icy steps kicked in, some of which had melted out into the adjacent, exposed rock. All snow to the summit was hard and icy and the last 100 or so feet had only tiny steps - an axe was handy here. Overall, given how much of the Grand has melted out, I expect it to be climbable for a short period of time. Skiing it right now would probably be pretty lackluster. Gear: I didn't use flotation at all today (I was on top of Aetna by 8:30, so no need) and would consider an axe and crampons necessary given how icy the couloir was. 
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Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2021-04-11, By: osprey
Info: Continuous snow starts about 0.5 miles from the FS230 road TH. The snow on the road is well packed by snowmobiles and there is no need for traction or flotation going up or down. The snow was very firm in the morning but I did not use crampons or ax until just below where the Couloir becomes steep. The final upper part of the Couloir had very icy snow such that I was using the ax pick despite some steps placed by someone under warmer conditions. It was too icy to descend the Couloir so I went down the west ridge which had softer snow and a more mellow angle until I could traverse back into the Couloir. It took a long time to go up the steep part of the Couloir. 
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Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2021-03-21, By: spoony
Info: Skied the Grand on Aetna today. FS 230 is well-packed the whole way and *almost* snow covered from the parking lot, just a few bare spots near the bottom. Conditions today were more winter than spring. The couloir got a dash of overnight snow that was enhanced by light wind loading up to about 8 inches in spots. Wind slab formation was pretty minimal but I stayed away from the obvious areas where wind loading would occur. Below the fresh snow, there was a hard crust from the past few days of warm weather. Underneath the crust was a variable mismash of snow types. I didn't dig any pits but I paid close attention to the snow on my way up. Big fear was a thin slabby snowpack with faceted snow on the ground level but as I climbed I never felt terribly concerned except near the very top where things felt a bit more slab-like. (Though I guess that is problem with deep persistent slabs...you cannot really find them until they go). Any, you can easily travel on talus for much of the route if you want to avoid setting anything off. I was able to skin up to around 12,800 before I switched to boots and crampons. The crust easily supported my weight on skis but I did break through to knee or thigh deep when I switched to boots in spots. Ski down was pretty good with just enough fresh dust over the crust to make for fun turns. Did not see anyone on the mountain but a few people on 230. 
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Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2020-05-31, By: Jonathan Deffenbaugh
Info: Great climb up the Grand Couloir! Unfortunately the apron's completely melted out so prepare for some rock hopping. However there's still around 1,800' of snow climbing with good kick stepping conditions until near the summit, surprisingly there was some post holing involved. Good glissade runs on the way out, enjoy! 
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Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2020-05-22, By: WildWanderer
Info: Last report still valid. Just adding pictures. I made this a snow climb, but it's possible to summit on the scree without traction or by taking the ridge. 
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Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2020-05-18, By: Kiefer
Info: Absolutely no need for flotation. FSR 230 is completely dry. The bottom of the apron for the Grand is completely dry. Only the west side (climbers right) of the Grand is filled in with snow. The east side and ridge is also dry as a bone. The west ridge is dry. The couloir will only last maybe another 10-14 days. Taylor is even dryer than Aetna. 
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2020-05-16, By: 9patrickmurphy
Info: Climbed via the ridge from Taylor, skied the Grand Couloir for descent. The couloir's in good shape today, I'm not sure what it'll look like next week though. Very narrow entrance at the top, was able to side-step down and not remove skis until 11,000. Corny and fun! Really suncupped at the bottom though. I didn't find much beta about the Taylor/Aetna ridge so I'll give my two cents: annoying but generally solid talus on the Taylor side, easing to grassy slopes to the saddle. Then it was a nasty 50% grade for maybe 150 feet that was all covered in snow (very glad to have my axe), then it was relatively easy snow/loose talus to the summit of Aetna. I've dealt with worse ridges, but this one wasn't my fave (carrying skis and ski boots on my back the whole way didn't make me love it any more). Overall definitely worth getting both these peaks in one day, especially if the descent can be so much fun! A good amount of snow in Hoffman Park basin if you're looking to just hit Taylor, too. Photo 1 - a nice sunrise Photo 2 - the Grand from above Photo 3 - the Grand from above, looking at the entrance point from the summit Photo 4 - the Grand from below. Plenty of snow, but perhaps not for long... 
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Route: Taylor/Aetna
Posted On: 2019-07-09, By: madadraw1
Info: Started from old marble quarry on CR 228. All snow avoidable to Taylor summit. A couple stretches of consolidated snow on ridge connecting Taylor & Aetna. Able to glissade down some of this on descent of Aetna. Glissaded down 700-1000 ft from Taylor summit. Again, this snow was avoidable on way up. Note, need at least a cross over vehicle to get up to the marble quarry. 
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2019-06-16, By: Tim A
Info: Aetna is past its prime for skiing. Made it 1.5 miles up the road to the Boss Lake TH in an Outback, and the mile from there to the avy runout features off and on snow patches. Runout below the Grand is dry and made for a tedious crossing of the talus field. Consistent snow starts around 11,200 but it's a thin band for several hundred feet through some trees. Firm for cramponing this morning at 5am. Upper third became really punchy by 6:30 so I followed a bootpack climbers right side of the couloir to the summit. A fresh two inches of snow on the upper mountain. Pic 4 is the traverse to Taylor. Looks mostly dry once the powder burns off today. 
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Route: From Taylor Mountain A
Posted On: 2019-06-14, By: WildWanderer
Info: I didn't summit today due to high winds, but early morning conditions (otherwise) looked perfect to make this a loop either way, from Aetna or Taylor. Here are some photos from Taylor Mountain A and the ridge of Mt Aetna for those of you looking to do the loop. 
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Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2019-06-11, By: Giant hills
Info: Road was drivable to about 1.5mile of apron. Avalanche debris blocked road looked like they're working on getting cleared. Walkable patchy snow until about half mile of apron then continuous skinable snow. Couloir had a nice freeze and was in good shape. was in great condition for riding around 930. Snow is starting to become patchy on lower portions but upper portion still has a lot in there. 
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Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2019-05-30, By: desertdog
Info: About half way up the approach road still has plenty snow. The main part of the couloir still has snow. We booted it till the steep section then used crampons and ice axes. Never needed snowshoes. Get there early for this one. We were lazy and hit about the bottom of the couloir about 630am and by the time we were at the steep section we were sinking down quite a bit. 
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2019-05-05, By: eskermo
Info: Probably 12 or so folks on this route yesterday. Continuous skinnable snow starts at 0.3 miles and is only interrupted by an avalanche debris field you'll need to step over ~1 mile from the trailhead. The ski is in from from not far from the summit. There was a pretty big avalanche a couple days prior (?) that ran almost half the length of the line, but there was decent snow on either side of the path to follow. There were some pretty big cornices on the ridgeline on climbers left. The snow on the top half sucked for skiing - we didn't want to wait for it to warm up. The bottom half was pretty great corn riding though. The road out is rideable but there's some serious poling involved. Thank you to whoever put the boot pack in up high prior to Saturday! 
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Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2019-04-19, By: bmcqueen
Info: Went up the Grand today. Conditions were ideal. Headed across to Taylor after that. 
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Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2019-03-27, By: phatteus
Info: This is a side view of the Grand Couloir from the top of Pancha Pass 16 miles away. Zoom in to see the massive cornices overhanging the couloir. 
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Route: Ridge from Taylor Mtn
Posted On: 2018-06-16, By: majtytom
Info: just one snowfield in the saddle, which is easily bypassed, and other snowfields on the ridge pose no issue. Essentially summer conditions. Going down from Aetna to FS230 was tough (steep and scree/gravel) and I would not recommend going up this way ever as it must be a struggle for sure (cca 3K feet in 1 mile). 
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Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2018-05-13, By: JosephG
Info: The "Grand" is pretty sad, more like the "petite." Melted out until about 12,900', but that at least means the fun part of the climb remained snowy. Snow was firm in the early a.m., with an evident freeze line around 13,300' or so (although the snow from 12,900'-13,300' was well bonded and not going anywhere). No cornices to speak of. The east-ish face of Aetna has more snow, including a continuous (and obviously skied) snow line from the summit down to the Hoffman Park basin area. Bushwhack from Taylor back to CR 230 featured some fun rotten snow in the trees, but nothing extreme. 
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2018-05-06, By: Trotter
Info: Road is covered with snow starting about 1 mile in, well packed by snowmobiles, didn't need snowshoes all day. Couloir snow is down to about 10-20 feet wide on one side below ~12,000 feet, and widens out considerably above that. Plenty of rocks sticking through. Only one large cornice, and its way off to the side. I think the couloir only has 1 or 2 weeks left if no new snow. 
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Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2017-07-29, By: JasonKline
Info: Summer conditions. Snow was easily avoidable. Not much snow on the Aetna Grand Couloir. There were a fair number of downed trees on FS230C leading to Hoffman Park, but it didn't take long to go around them. 
Route: Grand Couloir
Posted On: 2017-05-14, By: cardgenius
Info: Good conditions in The Grand. Still snow on the summit for a ski decent. Off the summit ridge it was a little crusty but had nice corn after that the whole way down. A couple sections are getting thin down low so it might not be continuous for too much longer. Not much of a booter until the final 3-400ft. Avy debri from a cornice fall on the SW ridge of the couloir. 
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