Peak(s):  Missouri Mountain  -  14,067 feet
Date Posted:  05/08/2011
Date Climbed:   05/07/2011
Author:  brech
 Spring skiing on Missouri   

Inspired by a previous 14ers report on skiing the North Couloirs, we have been wanting to do this for about a year.

We decided to ski up to around 12,000' setup a camp and attack Missouri from there.
High camp the Ritz at Missouri Gulch
The Ritz at Missouri Gulch

Trailhead was completely clear and the first 1/4 mile up we were bootpacking with 60 lb packs.
We started up about 12:30 on fairly heavy wet snow, made our camp slightly N and W of Mt Bedford.
Ate dinner out of a bag and got to bed early, fairly windy through the night but temps stayed in the 20's, when we got up about 6:30 the wet snow was pretty hard.
We skied up to Elkhead basin then being our first time here probably skied up the ramp to the west a bit further then we needed to and ended up doing switchbacks to 13,000'.
When the slope got to about 35 deg we switched to crampons
Sitting at 13,500 taking a break
After about an hour of climbing, crawling, taking very large steps that get you back to where you started we made the ridge
Finally made the ridge
Then it was a short walk in the park to the summit right at noon
Geo marker
, Scott and Bob at the top
Scott and Bob at the top
, Scott resting at the top on his 40th B-Day notice the B-day cake in right side of the pic
Scott resting notice the B-Day cake
It was an awesome day at the top so after a 1/2 hr rest, lunch and enjoying the amazing views,

It was time for the ride down, we chose the north couloir just to skiers left of the summit, snow was still very firm and didn't show any signs of softening, coming up the couloir the only signs of instability we saw was either old or on aspects the sun had affected. So we decided it was a go.
Being it was Scott's B-Day he got the honor of going in first and I went far enough to be able to watch his descent, then followed when he was safe, snow was fairly hard maybe a bit crusty even, gave some tired legs a bit of a workout. But we were able to ski 2500 vertical back to camp without a problem. Red line is our descent
Ski Descent
Good time 5 hours up 20 minutes down

YouTube video of our ski

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

 Comments or Questions

North Couloir
05/09/2011 04:50
Our ski (and snowshoe) group dug a pit at at base of the North Couloir, and found it to be highly unstable! We may have found a localized spot, but we weren't willing to chance a climb or ski on it. Maybe descending at noon cased enough warming to change conditions.


North Couloir
05/09/2011 15:32
Thank you for your information, I would like to hear what you found.
We skied the chute just W of the summit, another group skied the line just past that about the same time.
Coming down except for some hard crust breaking off the top we didn't experience any kind of signs that was alarming.
I would definately like to hear what you found as I am always trying to improve my skills in this critical area.
Sharing in this forum is good for everyone as well.
Please reply to the email I sent to you if possible.


05/09/2011 16:24
Congrats on a great trip!

Were you able to find water that high or did you have to melt snow?


05/09/2011 16:43
Melted snow


4” wind slab layer
05/09/2011 17:17
At the base of the couloir we found a 4” reactive wind slab layer, over powder, on top of the ice melt lense. During the block isolation phase, the wind slab layer popped off without touching it. Ie we didn't get a chance to he to the compression teat on that layer. The lower layers responded well to the compression tests, but during the shovel shear test failed on the ice lense.

Armed with this knowledge we were not going to have 7 climbers going up the couloir at the same time. The top layer failing may not have been bad, but triggering on the ice lense would have meant all 7 of us sent to the bottom an buried deep. We chose to be very conservative.

The C couloir which we skied, was on a different aspect and didnot have this wind slab layer. We also felt this was an easier descent as we could ski from safe spot to safe spot and watch each other better.

At about noon, we notice numerous wet avys rolling down the SE aspects of the ridge.


05/09/2011 19:11
Appreciate the feedback, this is very helpful. We didn't see it that unstable or the surface slab to be that thick, or the snowpack under that to be very reactive.
I do appreciate every chance to learn and get better
Thanks again for your feedback.

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