Left Lake Louise this morning at 4:30am with Brie Hogan and headed up to Moraine Lake with our sights on 3/4 Couloir. Got some great reports from a couple of parties over the last week but unfortunately conditions seem to have deteriorated since.
Got to the parking lot at 5am, it was mostly empty but still a few people arriving at that hour. Followed the summer trail along the lake until reaching the creek. There is a log bridge with a nice steel cable for support to cross – the wood was very icy. Followed the trail all the way to the fan where we kept hiking in the now frozen staircase all the way to the exit rock where we switched over to crampons. We got half way to the choke when we got first light and could now see most of the run above had avalanched down to firn snow. We climbed up the narrow remaining section of snow in the choke and stopped above it to the climber’s right. The remaining climb would have forced us onto firn/ice and I don’t think either of us cared to ski on it. We put in 3 ice screws and did our switch over. Brie had been wearing alpine climbing boots and had planned to switch to snowboard boots but due to our situation she opted to ride down in her alpine boots. She went first without issue and I followed once I couldn’t see her (The plan was for me to packed her snowboard boots and give them to her in a better spot if the other boots didn’t work out). After we got through the choke she seemed to be riding without problems so we kept heading down where we found much better snow along the skier’s left side of the couloir. I skied all the way back to the trail below the fan on bumpy melt freeze and Brie decided to walk the last 50m vertical. Once regrouped at the trail we packed up all our gear and hiked back out to the parking lot.
Anyone thinking of heading up for skiing should probably wait until there is significant snowfall. The run has avalanched to firn snow/ice along the skier’s right side from very near the top to the exit rock (where you find lots of debris). Although there is a thin strip along the climber’s right in the choke, the remaining climb forces you onto firn/ice – fast climbing but not my idea of good skiing. Very cloudy to start today but it burned off once the sun was out.
Big thanks to Anna Elkins who hiked up to Larch Valley to get pictures of us found below!