Skied the bottom half of Cobra Couloir this morning with Luke Seed where we found excellent snow and travel.
After two days of steady snowfall at valley bottom I knew Cobra Couloir could hold some good turns. Anna Elkins had scouted the line a week ago and there was plenty of firn snow wall to wall. Temps looked good for bonding and there had been almost no wind. I message Luke and sure enough he was thinking the same thing. This is also a good early season option as there is a trail leading to the runout boulder field and doesn’t require you to travel over any vegetation.
Left the Paradise parking at 4:15am and walked all the way to the runout boulder field in the dark. About 5-15cm of snow on trail currently with bare patches – ground isn’t frozen but also not too muddy. Once at the fan area I started to skin while Luke bootpacked (he didn’t bring skins) – both modes of travel are about the same currently. There is about 20-30cm of snow on the fan, so not enough to completely bury the rocks just yet. Once at the base of the couloir we both switched over to crampons and two ice axes. The snow in the feature was 20-50cm of powder over firn snow with good bonding. Travel was easy but admittedly I’m pretty out of shape from writing at a desk all summer, so I wasn’t moving too fast. After regrouping we decided we would stop below the choke – Luke started just below it and I started at a small bench below him. Luke’s first few turns created a good sized slough which came my way but wasn’t an issue. After he passed me I followed but skied the far skier’s left side where I found deep powder turns all the way to the fan. Top 5cm was shedding but didn’t run fast or far.
At the fan I kept “skiing”, carefully, where I hit plenty of rocks. Luke bootpacked down to the flats to meet me and we followed the trail back to the parking lot by 9:45am. Our tracks coming in were completely filled in for the second half of the trail – still snowing good out that way!
So is it really winter? Of course not, but it was super fun to get out and we got much better turns than we thought we would. Skiing this early presents a lot of different problems (outside of the norm, today we were worried about rock fall, running water in our new snow/firn interface) so if you are heading out and don’t have experience with very early season keep an open mind and really look around. And remember don’t go skiing where there is vegetation, (Bow Summit, Parker’s Ridge) until there is a 50cm base.