Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - South Early Winter Spire/Southwest Couloir

Nice climb but the route is done for the year.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Good snow up to the constriction. Above that were stretches of loose scree and very soft snow.

Our party of six left the Blue Lake trailhead around 7:00 a.m. Although the temperature had remained above freezing at night the snow was firm enough that snowshoes were nice but not required.

We used a running belay on the climb. Pickets were set in the good snow lower down and rock protection in the actual couloir. The climb was scheduled later usual because of the late opening of SR 20 but we hoped that the large snowpack would prolong the route. Unfortunately, the recent warm weather had melted out some of the upper route leaving two short sections of unsavory loose rock.

We reached the summit around 11:00 a.m. and enjoyed great views in every direction. The weather was terrific: pleasantly warm, clear skies, and no wind.

From the top of the couloir we made two double-rope rappels and down-climbed the rest. After preparing to rappel we waited to let another party come up the route. Despite the long delay, we were back at the cars around 3:00 p.m. (except for the two climbers who headed off to climb the Beckey route).