The snow was soft and fun skiing. I arrived at the narrow section which I'd identified on the climb and had altogether too much fun making jump turns down the tight chute, both tips and tails landing on rocks with every turn.
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Kevin eyed the gully for a second before deciding he didn't want any of it and he too turned around to take a mellower route. I decided to take my chances but soon found my tails sliding out from under me and next thing I knew I was sliding downhill head first. Casey rounded the corner just in time to see me carom past a large pine at the outlet of the gully.
We were all transfixed by a pillar near the top of the ridge. Kristine seems to have a deep seated desire to climb all things thumb shaped and this appeared to fit the bill. Chris and I were also intrigued by the pillar and we unanimously agreed to head there and climb it if possible.
I don't even recall meeting a significant stream crossing when I'd taken the trail in October. Now, it seemed like at least two feet of water buried a fifteen foot stretch of trail.
I noticed that they had crampons and axes and realized that they were indeed more prepared than I for such conditions -- apparently they've been doing laps on the trail every day to try to help it melt out! What heroes!
We clipped into our skis and I started down the steep snow field to see what the route entailed. After descending fifty feet I reached the rocks and was dismayed to see nothing but air on the other side. This was a dead end and a bad one.
After talking a big game all season, Rafee finally found himself a ski touring setup and was looking to break in his new equipment.
To my great delight (if not surprise), Morgan pulled out a couple of beers and we found some seats and had a drink. It was a splendid day to be on top of the world and we spent an hour enjoying the drink, the day, and the company.
We met up at our designated tree which had just enough shade for the four of us. We put our skins out in the sun to dry as much as possible and had a pleasant lunch, enjoying the fine spring weather. All across Lake Aloha, small teardrops of brilliant azure snowmelt accumulated in various low spots.
I peered over the backside of the couloir and was stunned. From my earlier visit to Whorl Mountain I knew that despite the severity of Matterhorn's north face, its south slope was gentle class 2 talus. The guidebook even mentioned that the East Couloir was the easiest way to gain the summit, so I'd assumed that the West Couloir would be similar. Instead I was presented with a shear granite face.