A few days ago Anna, Joel and I went for a long walk up Paradise Valley. I’ve been looking to ski a few of the lines further up the valley and they looked in shape so I talked to Chris, Kieran and Luke about heading up there for a camping trip during the weather window Saturday to Monday. Chris and Kieran would join for the camp while Luke said he could come in for the first day. Game on!

Birds keep ruining my skinning pictures…

Yesterday we met up and headed up the creek until we reached the first runouts of Haddo Peak and started talking options. The big ticket item for the trip was to bag the 1000m south aspect run of Mount Aberdeen so we decided to head straight there to check it out. Once at the runout we could see a cornice collapse had triggered a size 2 avalanche which ran the top 500m but had not taken up much of the slope left or right of it.

Kieran almost at the top of Aberdeen

Luke started breaking trail up the fan while the rest of us dropped off our camp gear. We caught up near the exit couloir feature and continued up the guts of the run. After skinning for 500m we were at the deposit of the avalanche. We skinned up the remaining 500m using the flank and guts of the debris. With 50m to go we had to go through the hangfire and sure enough we got a settlement and cracking, we skinned quickly tip to tail over to the bare rocks to get off slab just in case it decided to release as we transitioned from thick to thin. Luckily nothing happened and we were a short bootpack to the col.

Luke skiing the top section of Aberdeen

Once at the col we switched over quickly and I dropped in once Kieran was ready and had eyes on me. I skied the fresh snow alongside the avalanche flank. Nothing was moving or popping and it skied really good. Luke, Chris and finally Kieran followed, all reporting great turns. We then skied the final 500m back down the creek through the exit couloir, again on some great creamy snow.

Kieran coming down the top section of Aberdeen

Luke bailed out for the day and the rest of us decided to make camp at the trim line. By the time it got dark we were all in bed, there was no wind and it didn’t feel too cold.

Chris heading into the exit couloir

I woke up around 3am freezing cold. I had all my down camp gear on and in a -30C sleeping bag, what’s wrong here? It’s so damn cold I get up and boil water to fill water bottles to sleep with. I go back to bed feeling a bit warmer but then wake up 2 hours later as my water bottles have cooled down. I get back up, boil the water again and head back to bed. I’m guessing it was at least -40C in the local area but had no way of knowing.

Skinning up into Eiffel Couloir

This morning we all got up late, freezing cold and hungry. We got moving slowly and decided to bail on the second night in case it was the same temps. After eating and packing we stashed our multi day gear at the summer trail and head towards Eiffel Couloir. We skinned up the fan before switching to crampons and axes for the bootpack. Half way up we decided to bail, the snow rapidly changed to nasty breakable windslab over bottomless facets. The bottom half skied pretty good considering the hard packed wind surface, at least it wasn’t breaking through to the facets.

After our failed top out on the couloir we called the trip, went back to our gear and repacked and headed out via the creek.

Skiing tough snow with amazing scenary

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