Mt. Evans - 14,264 feet
|West Gully/Sunrise Couloir via unknown couloir|
Trailhead: Summit Lake
Destination: West Gully (Sunrise Couloir)
Time: ~3 hours
Elevation Gain: ~1,170 ft.
Round Trip Dist.: ~3 mi.
I had just got some cramp-ons the day before and my ice axe was only a few weeks old. Not wanting waste any time before I could try out the new gear, the quick drive to Mt. Evans sounded good. It being my first time up to Evans I was disappointed by the fee to use the road, but got over it quickly. Once at Summit Lake I saw many skiers hitching rides to the summit and a few heading out to climb the North face, however for me it was the wide couloir to the West that beckoned.
A quick skin across the frozen lake brought me to the West end of the basin, where I watched a snowboarder, who had climbed the gully, descend from near it's top. He informed me that the snow was still very hard on the way down and I thanked him. It took me a minute to decide which route I wanted to climb up. I had decided not to go directly up the gully because of the cornice looming above, but another similarly steep climb had caught my eye. I never got a good shot of this couloir with my camera, but found a few pictures of it that other people posted on this site. Maybe it has a name?
Weaving through rocks and grass on the lower section I go to a snowfield that I could traverse 3-4 times before It got too steep. Skis off, crampons on, and I was moving up the steep stuff with the control and stability I was looking for in crampons. It felt great compared to a few of the sketchier boot packs I've had in the past - felt like I was part of the mountain.
At the top of the couloir I bumped into a couple that I had seen leaving the parking lot. They were headed towards the Evans summit from Mt. Spalding. After stowing the crampons I walked West a bit and broke out the camera for some great views of the Front, 10 Mile, and Mosquito Ranges. Satisfied with that I trotted off towards the low point in the Spalding-Evans saddle and the top of the Sunrise Couloir.
The cornice was larger than it looked from below but there was an easy entry that required no air time at all. Once in the couloir I could immediately tell the surface snow was pretty wet, but firm underneath. Sensing a wet slide to come I took a couple traversing turns and sure enough a little wet slide was initiated. After it stopped I skied the rest of the way down on fun snow.
I enjoyed the ski back across the lake and drove to the summit parking lot but didn't bother with the busy summit trail. The next day we had a beach party at A-Basin.
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